Monday Morning Memo for May 22, 2017

Crime Rates & Victims
Note the missing word……victims
As crime rates rise and victims continue to be marginalized by some state legislators, the Los Angeles Times again provided a “criminal justice reform” advocate with a platform to expound on how the system is too harsh.  This time it was Fordham law professor John Pfaff, who blamed budgetary incentives and the dark forces of prosecutors as reasons why criminal punishments are not lessened.
Legislation
State Senate bill would limit prosecutor IDs in judges’ races
Candidates in California judicial elections, whose names and qualifications are usually little-known to the public, can sometimes tilt the outcome by describing themselves on the ballot as a “gang violence prosecutor” or “domestic violence prosecutor.” Legislation now awaiting a vote in the state Senate, and supported by the state’s judges, would require prosecutors seeking judicial office to restrict their self-descriptions to their titles – “deputy district attorney” or simply “attorney at law.”
District Attorney
No-confidence vote for Contra Costa County district attorney who admitted to misusing campaign funds
The top cop in Contra Costa County is facing a firestorm after admitting he spent tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for his personal use. The county’s Civil Grand Jury is now calling for the removal of the county’s District Attorney Mark Peterson. On Friday, members of the District Attorney Association authorized a no-confidence vote.
DA marijuana working group member clarifies: DAs don’t have a stance on Cole memo
A coalition of the nation’s prosecutors recently proclaimed that marijuana enforcement policies should be consistent across America. But while a working group for the National District Attorneys Association decreed the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause should reign supreme in a time of rapidly shifting state marijuana laws, it stopped short of stating explicitly what those enforcement policies should be.
Dangerous ‘collateral consequences’ in Santa Clara County, California
Neha Rastogi must have thought she was living the American Dream. A native of India, Rastogi was a 30-something high-tech star working at the world’s premier technology company (Apple), sometimes directly with Silicon Valley’s biggest celebrity (Steve Jobs). Married to another successful IT developer and fellow India native, and with two children soon to arrive, she seemed to be on top of the world.
Prison & Jail
Jerry Brown’s AB 109 ‘reform’ put L.A.’s most wanted back on streets
On Monday, an accused cop killer, gang member Michael C. Mejia, reportedly laughed as he was arraigned in court, according to the local ABC News affiliate. Mejia was once released under AB 109, Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature prison reform, and now stands accused of committing two murders, including the murder of a Whittier police officer in February.
How violent criminals get out of prison early under Prop. 57
Welcome to the new, crazy world of California prison sentencing. It seems that under Prop. 57, law-abiding citizens get screwed with more crime, criminals get out of jail early and the state claims it’s saving the taxpayers money. Michelle Hanisee, President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, says Governor Jerry Brown promised that there was no way violent criminals would be released early under Prop. 57. But there is a huge loophole.
As Prop 57 goes into effect, experts debate impact on youth, prison overcrowding
In November, Californians passed Proposition 57 by a 64.5 percent vote. Formally known as the California Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative, and strongly endorsed by Governor Jerry Brown, Oakland’s former mayor, the new law attempts to ease prison overcrowding by increasing parole opportunities for inmates and changing how juvenile offenders are charged.
Family of slain Inglewood officer fight to keep killer in prison amid parole ruling
A man convicted of killing an Inglewood police officer is set to walk free and the officer’s family spoke out, demanding the man remain in prison. “I never thought we’d be here trying to fight for him to stay in prison. What kind of justice system would release a cop killer?” son George Aguilar Jr. said.
Law student with felony record and Skadden fellowship denied character and fitness recommendation
Tarra Simmons, a third-year law student, convicted felon and former drug addict who in December won a Skadden Fellowship to help people recently released from prison, did not have her character and fitness review approved by the Washington State Bar Association. The character and fitness board’s vote against Simmons’ recommendation was 6-3, Northwest Public Radio reports.
Law Enforcement
eBay won’t stop selling counterfeit law enforcement badges
Despite repeated written notifications, eBay continues to be the place for anyone around the world to buy fake law enforcement badges and identification cards. Global e-commerce giant eBay continues to be the “one stop” shopping market for fake police items. Click to view a few of the current eBay listings for LAPD Badges and FBI Badge and ID.
Amazon still selling counterfeit police badges despite complaints
Amazon claims to have a strong anti-counterfeit policy, but that claim falls flat. Amazon can’t even keep counterfeit FBI, NYPD, CIA and other fake police badges off its website. The problem is that anybody, anywhere, can sell just about anything on Amazon, including counterfeit products that may be dangerous or deadly. Amazon receives a fee on each fake item sold.
Calif. shifts from scanners to K-9s to catch smugglers
California is turning from mechanical scanners to canine sniffers in its latest intensive attempt to catch smugglers who import drugs into state prisons. Gov. Jerry Brown is dumping a three-year, $15.3 million program intended to thwart prison smuggling. That effort tested the extensive use of airport-style scanners, metal detectors, surveillance cameras, urine tests and drug-sniffing dogs at 11 of California’s 35 prisons.
San Bernardino County officers continue to use a shooting tactic other police departments have tried to stop
Jose Villegas, his wife and son were headed home on the 215 Freeway after a shopping excursion in September 2015 when an SUV came hurtling at the family’s Dodge Durango. There was little time to react. “Boom!” Villegas said. “It was like an explosion.” Not far away, a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department helicopter buzzed in the air, trailing a robbery suspect in the SUV. He had been driving at speeds exceeding 100 mph – in the wrong direction.
Video: Trump orders DOJ to develop strategies to prevent violence against officers, speaks at Police Week
President Donald Trump is asking the Justice Department to develop strategies to prevent and prosecute violent crimes against law enforcement. Trump says in the Oval Office that police officers have “had it with what’s going on” and notes that 118 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2016. Trump signed a proclamation to mark Peace Officers’ Memorial Week and Police Week.
‘I am despicable’: Kern County lawman convicted in drug plot blames Satan
A former Kern County sheriff’s deputy who pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to steal marijuana seized during criminal investigations apologized in a recorded video message for his misdeeds, saying Satan was “playing games” with him. In a May 7 video entitled “I am sorry!” Logan August appeared seated with his wife as he apologized to Kern County residents, law enforcement officials and “anybody I had ever worked with that wears the badge that I disgraced.”
LAPD announces major MS-13 bust
Nearly two dozen MS-13 gang members were arrested in a pre-dawn crackdown according to LAPD officials. Police went to more than 50 locations located across the city this morning to bust the gang members. LAPD Chief Beck says illegal immigrants helped provide the tips that led to the crackdown. “All of that was made possible by the policies of the Los Angeles Police Department and the adjoining agencies that do not check immigration status,” Beck said at a press conference held this morning announcing the arrest.
In Orange County’s courthouse scandals, prosecutors and sheriff unite in cover-ups
Undercover Canadian police couldn’t believe their eyes at the Tycoon Club in Vancouver. Oblivious to the surveillance, law-enforcement colleagues, including two cops from Southern California, partied inside a hangout for the Big Circle Boys, a violent, Asian, organized-crime family. The Guangzhou-spawned syndicate specialized in extortion, home-invasion robberies and narcotics trade-particularly heroin, international human trafficking and prostitution.
LA sheriff says feds should restore military gear for police
The leader of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department said Wednesday that federal officials should restore the flow of surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies to ensure officers aren’t put in danger when responding to active shooter calls and terrorist attacks.
Gun Control
The ATF is shutting down businesses it says are hawking silencers disguised as cleaning tools
Utah firearms dealer Jeffrey Luck knows his customers are frustrated when they hear it takes $200, and as long as nine months, to process a federal application to buy a firearms silencer. But the law is the law, and as the licensed owner of Darkside Tactical, Luck says he stays on the right side of it.
SF forces gun suppliers to agree to halt sale of high-capacity kits
San Francisco extracted a legal settlement Tuesday from online gun suppliers who may have tried to sidestep state and local bans on high-capacity gun magazines by advertising “repair kits” that could be used to assemble the forbidden weapons’ cartridge holders. But the settlement, announced by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, is just a preliminary to the main events that may soon determine the extent of the right to own and carry a gun in California and across the nation.
Cyber Security
How a $10.69 purchase may have sidelined the global malware attack
As the world began Friday to understand the dimensions of “Wanna Decrypt0r 2.0,” the ransomware that has crippled computers worldwide, a vacationing British cybersecurity researcher was already several steps ahead. About 3 p.m. Eastern time, the specialist with U.S. cybersecurity enterprise Kryptos Logic bought an unusually long and nonsensical domain name ending with “gwea.com.”
City & County Government
Meet the Malibu lawyer who is upending California’s political system, one town at a time
Kevin Shenkman, who is tall and bookish, does not look like the aspiring light heavyweight boxer he once was. Clearly, though, he still relishes a good fight. For the past several years, Shenkman, 38, who lives and practices law in Malibu, has been suing, or threatening to sue, cities all over Southern California, demanding they change the way they elect members of their city councils in order to increase the numbers of African-American and Latino representatives.
Feds: Ex-Compton treasurer to plead guilty to embezzling $3.7M
Compton’s former deputy treasurer has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge of stealing more than $3.7 million in city funds, according to court papers filed Tuesday. Salvador Galvan, 47, of La Mirada, is expected to formally enter his plea to one federal count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds at a date yet to be determined.
When Jerry Hill gets ticked off, you might get a new law
Sen. Jerry Hill slowed his black Tesla to a stop at the intersection of Glenview Drive and Earl Avenue. He pointed to the sidewalk in front of a dirt lot. “Thirty-eight homes destroyed,” Hill said. “Eight people died.” Two years into his first term in the Assembly, a PG&E pipeline burst and ignited a fireball that blazed through this residential neighborhood in Hill’s district. The names of the victims sit in a frame on his desk in the Capitol.
Courts
Turmoil wracks Los Angeles County Bar Association
The Los Angeles County Bar Association may throw out what it calls a “tainted” nomination of new officers and trustees and go through the disputed process again, a state judge ruled Tuesday. But county Bar members denied likely election victories by the Bar’s actions say they will still press their lawsuit against the do-over, or run for office again if they must.
Supreme Court declines to consider excessive force case involving LAPD officers
The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to weigh in on a civil case in which two Los Angeles police officers were accused of using excessive force against a former Deutsche Bank executive who said he was handcuffed, taken to a hotel and beaten with a baton.
Crime increase sparks criminal justice reform debate in California
Crime has been going up in California, and some members of law enforcement and their support organizations are blaming a series of changes to California’s criminal justice system in recent years. Violent crime in California increased 10 percent and property crime increased 8.1 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the California Office of the Attorney General.
Judge throws out lawsuit challenging California’s execution law
A judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that gives prison authorities responsibility for establishing procedures for lethal injection executions. After voters passed a plan in November intended to speed up executions, the ACLU of Northern California challenged a state law that gave California’s corrections department wide authority to establish an execution protocol.
High Court to hear privacy challenge to child abuse reporting aw
The California Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether requiring therapists to notify authorities that their patients are accessing or viewing child pornography violates those patients’ constitutional rights to privacy. The justices, at their weekly conference in San Francisco Wednesday, unanimously granted review in Mathews v. Harris (2017) 7 Cal. App. 5th 334. Div. Two of this district’s Court of Appeal ruled Jan. 9 that the interests served by the reporting requirements outweigh the privacy interests asserted by a group of mandatory reporters on their patients’ behalf.
When does political gerrymandering cross a constitutional line?
The Supreme Court has never struck down an election map on the ground that it was drawn to make sure one political party would win an outsize number of seats. But it has left open the possibility that some kinds of political gamesmanship in redistricting may be too extreme. The problem, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in a 2004 concurrence, is that no one has come up with “a workable standard” to decide when the political gerrymandering has crossed a constitutional line.
Becerra’s new role fighting Trump provides plenty of fodder
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra shouldn’t be short on talking points Monday at the Sacramento Press Club luncheon. The former congressman’s ascension to a post as the state’s top lawyer coincided with Donald Trump’s rise to power in Washington. And so far, the new administration is keeping Becerra pretty busy.
Supreme Court sides with cop who handcuffed a boy, 13, for repeatedly burping in class and rejects claim his civil rights were violated
The US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the mother of a 13-year-old boy who was arrested for burping repeatedly and disrupting his class. The boy’s mother filed a lawsuit against her son’s arresting officer, Arthur Acosta, saying her son’s civil rights were violated when he was handcuffed.
Lawyer who reacted to judge’s ruling with muttered obscenity is suspended from federal practice
A lawyer who rolled her eyes and complained that a judge’s ruling was “f– bull–” has been suspended from practice in Chicago federal court for 90 days. The executive committee of the Northern District of Illinois imposed the suspension on Chicago-area lawyer Alison Motta in an order (PDF) made public last Friday, the Chicago Tribune reports.