Monday Morning Memo for May 8, 2017

Prosecution
The limits of prosecutorial power
Criminal justice reformers seem to have found a new champion in the progressive prosecutor. A recent New York Times article profiled some of these rising stars-Andrew Warren of Tampa, Scott Colom of eastern Mississippi, Kim Foxx of Chicago, Kim Ogg of Houston, and Aramis Ayala of Orlando. The Marshall Project has also devoted a fair share of coverage to “reform-minded” prosecutors.
State Government
The race to become California’s next governor is already awash in cash
A small field of candidates hoping to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown next year has already raised more than $20 million. Here’s what we know. Who’s raised the most? Gavin Newsom, whose donors range from Silicon Valley to Hollywood, has gotten out to a significant lead. Asian American business leaders have contributed large sums to John Chiang, while Antonio Villaraigosa has reached out to wealthy Angelenos.
Legislation
California Senate passes Senator Toni Atkins’ bill to help convict sex traffickers
A bill to help prosecutors convict predators who traffic in sex slavery passed in the California Senate Monday, announced a representative for Senator Toni Atkins. Atkins created SB 230 to add sex trafficking, pimping and pandering to the list of crimes that does not allow character evidence to be used in a trial.
Proposed marijuana regulations offer a business-friendly overhaul of the industry
California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. For the first 20 years of the legalization era, the state declined to create a normalized industry. Instead, local governments have been forced to figure out for themselves how to regulate a federally illegal industry. The consequences of this delay have frustrated cannabis activists eager to see California set the tone for legalization.
District Attorney
Bell Gardens councilman Pedro Aceituno under investigation by District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division
Hews Media Group-Community News has exclusively learned that an investigation has been opened by the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office (PID) focusing on Bell Gardens City Councilman Pedro Aceituno – and the City’s – transactions with Park Water Company (Park Water), Golden State Water Company (Golden State), and Central Basin (CB) Municipal Water District.
L.A. Coliseum suit says rave promoter is sidestepping its bill
In March, the District Attorney’s Office wrapped up its five-year prosecution of figures implicated in the Coliseum Corruption scandal, and rave promoters – who were accused of essentially bribing a public official for access to the taxpayer-owned facility – walked away relatively unscathed. The commission, a body of political appointees and rotating elected officials, isn’t giving up. This week, it filed a suit against just one promoter: Pasquale Rotella and his Insomniac Entertainment firm.
LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey releases annual “Report to the People”
District Attorney Jackie Lacey highlighted efforts to help mentally ill individuals stay out of the criminal justice system in an annual report released today by her office. The Report to the People 2015-16 leads off with a letter by Lacey that recalls the biggest convictions of the last two years. “One of the office’s greatest achievements was the successful prosecution of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. – who was convicted of the notorious `Grim Sleeper’ murders of nine women and a teenage girl spanning from 1985 to 2007,” Lacey wrote.
District Attorney’s Office spent $100,000 on weaponry in 2016 – almost as much as SDPD
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office spent almost $100,000 in 2016 on weapons for its Bureau of Investigation, an amount greater than that spent by three other Southern California prosecutors’ offices and almost as much as the San Diego Police Department. The office won’t say exactly what they purchased with the money.
Prison, Parole & Jail
Man convicted in 1985 murder of LAPD detective granted parole, outraging police union
A state review board has granted parole to the man who planned the assassination of a Los Angeles police detective more than 30 years ago in front of his 6-year-old son in the San Fernando Valley, prompting outrage from law enforcement. Voltaire Williams was one of six men connected to the ambush killing of Detective Thomas C. Williams – no relation – in a hail of machine gun fire in front of a Canoga Park church school on Halloween 1985.
Michele Hanisee: Cop killer to be released
Despite objections from countless law enforcement organizations, Voltaire Williams, who is serving a life sentence for his critical role in the 1985 assassination of LAPD Detective Thomas Williams (no relation), was granted parole Tuesday by a three-person panel from the California Board of Parole Hearings. Voltaire Williams, who has spent the last 32 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to murder Detective Williams, will now be released on parole.
California inmates decry changes to voter-backed early release plan
With the support of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and voters, California is preparing to overhaul decades-old determinate-sentencing laws and make thousands of nonviolent inmates eligible for early parole. In hopes of freeing up space inside its notoriously overcrowded prisons, this summer the state’s parole board will begin considering the early release of individuals convicted of crimes considered nonviolent by the state.
Spike in mentally ill LA jail inmates leads to new policies
Perhaps the largest group of mentally ill inmates in the U.S. resides in Los Angeles in one of the world’s largest jail complexes. Over the past seven years, the jail’s population has spiked almost 50 percent – with nearly every inmate having both mental illness and substance abuse problems – and officials suspect the rise is due to methamphetamine.
Judge: California must allow transgender inmates’ earrings
California prison officials must provide for free undergarments that flatten the chest of transgender inmates at women’s prisons and give transgender inmates at men’s prisons access to bracelets, earrings, hair brushes and hair clips, a federal judge said Friday. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar issued the order in a federal lawsuit that earlier led California to become the first state to provide taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery to an inmate.
Deaths, ‘self-inflicted violence’ up in LA County jails
It’s shaping up to be a bad year for deaths inside Los Angeles County jails: 10 people died from natural causes through March 24, county Inspector General Max Huntsman said Thursday.  “There were a lot of deaths at the beginning of the year,” Huntsman told the new Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission, which had requested the numbers. “If they continue at this rate, we will about double the rate of deaths from last year.”
Los Angeles jail adapts amid meth-fueled rise in mentally ill inmates
Perhaps the largest group of mentally ill inmates in the U.S. resides in Los Angeles in one of the world’s largest jail complexes. Over the past seven years, the jail’s population has spiked almost 50 percent – with nearly every inmate having both mental illness and substance abuse problems – and officials suspect the rise is due to methamphetamine.
Law Enforcement
FBI report finds officers ‘de-policing’ as anti-cop hostility becomes ‘new norm’
An unclassified FBI study on last year’s cop-killing spree found officers are “de-policing” amid concerns that anti-police defiance fueled in part by movements like Black Lives Matter has become the “new norm.” “Departments – and individual officers – have increasingly made the decision to stop engaging in proactive policing,” said the report by the FBI Office of Partner Engagement obtained by The Washington Times.
LA Riots 25 years later: Former DA Ira Reiner recalls ‘disturbing’ breakdown at LAPD
The 1992 Los Angeles riots broke out in Los Angeles Police Department territory, but sheriff’s deputies were the only ones called in during the early days to help control the chaos, recalls Ira Reiner, district attorney at the time. “In any other circumstances, that would be out of the question,” he said, but the LAPD leadership at the time was in no shape to take on the situation.
Fabio: California is a ‘mess’ because of liberal policies
Fabio, the Italian-born male model who has adorned the covers of countless romance novels, only became an American citizen last year, but he’s lived in California for years. On “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Fabio lamented that The Sunshine State is becoming unlivable thanks to liberal policies, particularly those involving crime and law enforcement. “California is a mess,” Fabio said. “Coming from Europe, I already saw this movie before.”
Police pursuit, fatal hit-run of 63-year-old North Hills victim leads to 1-year jail term for drugged-up motorist
A man who got behind the wheel while drugged is set to begin serving a one-year jail term on June 14 for a hit-and-run crash that killed a pedestrian in a North Hills crosswalk and an ensuing police pursuit that ended in Pacific Palisades. Mark Christian Johnson, 55, of Escondido, was also ordered to complete a six-month live-in drug treatment program after getting out of custody, followed by three years probation, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
County budget leaves us underfunded
It is often said that the level of commitment to an idea or project can be measured by one’s monetary commitment to it; hence the phrase “put your money where your mouth is.” While the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has occupied a great deal of time, focus, and calls for changes by the Board of Supervisors, the level of commitment has to be questioned in light of funds the department is slated to receive in the upcoming 2017-2018 fiscal year.
‘How many people are being shot?’ L.A. sheriff’s watchdog decries lack of transparency
A little more than two years ago, the primary watchdog over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department laid out numerous ways the agency was failing to provide the public with basic information about how often deputies use force, the number of complaints alleging misconduct and how many deputies were being disciplined. This week, Inspector General Max Huntsman complained that little has changed.
Police say local crime is 15% greater than three years ago
Though serious crime declined last year, Seal Beach Police officials say crime is higher now than it was in 2014. Police provided the Sun with crime data from 2013 to 2014. Last week, the Sun reported that serious crime, also known as Part 1 crime, decreased by more than 6 percent in 2016. “Proposition 47 was introduced November 4,  2014,” according to Sgt. Michael Henderson, the Police Department’s public information officer.
Scientists hunt hard evidence on how cop cameras affect behavior
New York City is set to begin giving body cameras to its police officers on Thursday. Under the police department’s pilot program, 1,200 officers in 20 precincts will receive the cameras. The officers will also be studied by scientists to see what effect the cameras have on policing. As police don body cameras across the country, scientists are increasingly working with departments to figure out how the cameras change behavior – of officers and the public.
‘Textalyzer’ Aims to curb distracted driving, but what about privacy?
If you’re one of the many who text, read email or view Facebook on your phone while driving, be warned: Police in your community may soon have a tool for catching you red-handed. The new “textalyzer” technology is modeled after the Breathalyzer, and would determine if you had been using your phone illegally on the road.
Two L.A. sheriff’s officials promoted to high ranks despite histories of serious discipline
In his 27 years at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, James Tatreau Jr. has made plenty of headlines – often for the wrong reasons. As a lieutenant in Lakewood, he helped organize a contest among deputies to arrest the most people in a 24-hour period – a move that then-Sheriff Lee Baca publicly criticized.
LAPD officer at center of high-profile shooting in Venice also faces domestic violence charges
Los Angeles police officer who Chief Charlie Beck says should be criminally charged for shooting an unarmed man in Venice is now facing new allegations: that he committed domestic violence against two women in Orange County. Prosecutors have charged Clifford Proctor with misdemeanor battery in connection with a September incident in Huntington Beach, marking the latest controversy to embroil the nine-year LAPD veteran.
Panhandler gets handcuffed, not a handout
An alleged fugitive wanted in Washington state was arrested Saturday morning after he allegedly tried to panhandle money from a local sheriff’s sergeant. “In the early morning hours of Saturday, Apr. 29, 2017, on-duty Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Sergeant Barclay stopped at a gas station convenience store on the 19400 block of Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country,” Shirley Miller, sheriff’s spokeswoman told The Signal Monday.
Cybercriminals breached over a billion accounts last year
Cybercriminals had a very good year in 2016 – and we all paid the price. These digital bandits became more ambitious and more creative and that resulted in a year marked by “extraordinary attacks,” according to the 2017 Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec. “Cyber crime hit the big time in 2016, with higher-profile victims and bigger-than-ever financial rewards,” the report concluded.
USC student charged with raping woman, 19, in dorm
A University of Southern California student was charged with raping a 19-year-old woman on campus, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday. Armann Karim Premjee, 20, was charged with one count each of rape by use of drugs and sexual penetration by a foreign object. The sophomore is accused of sexually assaulting the woman in her campus dorm room sometime after 1 a.m. on April 1.
Ex-LA deputy gets $1.27M settlement: Retaliation fear in Baca sheriff department
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to pay $1.275 million to settle a retaliation lawsuit brought by a former sheriff’s deputy who testified against colleagues involved in trying to “hide” a jailed FBI informant from federal agents. That criminal conspiracy ended in convictions for 10 sheriff’s officials, including former sheriff Lee Baca, who is awaiting sentencing.
Ballot measure on Los Angeles police misconduct causes heated debates
A measure that would allow police officers found guilty of misconduct to choose the body where they can appeal that decision is on the May 16 ballot. Rev. William B. Smart stood with several community advocates outside of the Los Angeles Police Department’s headquarters Tuesday, urging people to vote no on the measure also known as Amendment C.
To fight Chicago violence, police use technology that traces ‘day in the life’ of a gun
You’ve heard of the “day in the life of” an interesting person or public figure. Well now, new ballistic technology is helping federal agents and police create a day in the life of the guns being used by criminals terrorizing America’s neighborhoods– especially those in Chicago.
It’s called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).
Police: Former teacher preyed on Catholic school students for sex
Detectives say a former San Fernando Valley teacher was arrested on suspicion of having sex with his students. William Maclyn Murphy Eick taught at Bishop Alemany High School from 2009 to 2016. The investigation began last November when two victims came forward, according to an LAPD spokesman. He turned himself in Tuesday and was booked and released on $70,000 bail.
More use-of-force data needed from L.A. sheriff’s department
We’ve generally been pleased with the efforts by Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and his team to restore trust in their department after the scandals of the Lee Baca era. But in one not-unimportant matter, this editorial board and other county residents must reserve judgment. This is the matter of deputies’ use of force. The impression is that things are better than the not-so-old days of jailhouse brutality.
Death Penalty
Will the death penalty ever be enforced in California?
Q If the majority of Californians support the death penalty, why isn’t it enforced? – D.S., El Segundo A In November, Californians narrowly approved a measure seeking to speed up death penalty enforcement, and also defeated a measure that would have replaced the death penalty with a sentence of life without possibility of parole. More than 900 convicted killers have been sent to death row in California since capital punishment was reinstated in 1978, yet only 13 have been executed since then (the last in 2006).
Latest use of sedative keeps death penalty debate alive
Is unorthodox the same as cruel and unusual punishment? It’s the central question of the current U.S. death penalty debate, highlighted by the latest execution involving a disputed sedative that appeared to involve discomfort to the inmate. States struggling to find lethal drugs believe they’ve got the answer in midazolam, a sedative that’s taking the place of barbiturates and anesthetics no longer available because drug manufacturers don’t want them used in executions.
Immigration
Grief fuels father’s fight to end illegal immigration
Don Rosenberg is a lifelong liberal who may have only one thing in common politically with President Donald Trump: his battle against illegal immigration. Rosenberg became an activist on the issue after his 25-year-old son, Drew, was killed in a 2010 collision in San Francisco with a Honduran immigrant who had entered the country illegally, but been granted temporary immigration status.
CA sheriff hits back at “sanctuary state” rhetoric by showing just who would be protected
Much attention has been given to the antics of crazy California politicians like Kamala Harris, Kevin de Leon, and Nancy Pelosi, who all advocate for sanctuary city/state policies and call anyone opposed to their view racist or “white supremacist” – and can somehow say with a straight face that this policy doesn’t put Americans at risk.
CBS News dismayed drunk driving illegals are getting arrested for such a minor offense
A CBS News reporter is dismayed that the Trump administration is arresting illegal aliens who commit “minor” traffic offenses such as drunk driving. Drunk driving kills about 10,000 people in the United States every year. CBS News “justice reporter” Paula Reid is apparently worried that the Trump administration isn’t merely targeting illegals who are violent criminals, but is also arresting “nonviolent” lawbreakers like drunk drivers.
City & County Government
LA County leaders eye up to $20 million in unspent parcel tax funds for trauma centers
With a projected surplus of about $20 million to use at their discretion, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to look into how the network of trauma centers can benefit from the funds. County leaders said the extra money was generated by a parcel tax passed by voters in 2002. At the time, county hospitals faced more than a $700 million loss in federal funds to support trauma and emergency services, as well as bioterrorism preparedness activities.
Raids on Palmdale mayor have ‘nothing to do’ with city, official says
Raids on the home and office of Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office are not connected to the city, a Palmdale official said Thursday. “This warrant has nothing to do with the city of Palmdale, it has nothing to do with the city of Palmdale budget and has nothing to do with the city of Palmdale finances,” Palmdale communications manager John Mlynar said Thursday at City Hall.
Lawmakers propose expanding L.A. County Board of Supervisors from 5 to 7 members with one elected executive
A group of nine state lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill that would seek to improve representation of people of color on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors by expanding it from five to seven members and creating a position of an elected county executive. State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) is the lead author on the legislation that would put the matter of changing the state Constitution to a vote on the California ballot in June 2018.
Courts
Prosecutors to face punishment for withholding evidence
Prosecutors who withhold evidence that might have helped a criminal defendant will soon face the prospect of punishment by the State Bar of California, under rules already in place in every other state. The state Supreme Court voted unanimously Monday to approve most of the disciplinary standards that the bar had proposed for prosecutors, who are rarely punished for breaking the rules in California.
LACBA endorses judicial elections reform bill
The Los Angeles County Bar Association has gone on record in support of SB 235, a judicial elections reform bill that would bar inventive ballot designations. Its action, on Wednesday night, came close on the heels of the California Judges Association announcing late that afternoon that it was backing the bill, though it had a couple of suggestions for changes. The CJA is thus in harmony with the Alliance of California Judges, which has also endorsed the measure.
Cities can sue banks for predatory lending, rules U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court bolstered the nation’s housing-discrimination laws Monday, allowing cities to sue banks for racially biased home-loan practices — but only if they can show that those practices are causing financial harm to city governments. With Chief Justice John Roberts joining more-liberal colleagues to cast the deciding vote, the court ruled 5-3 that local governments, and not merely individuals, can challenge so-called predatory lending that targets racial minorities.
Latinos, blacks discriminated against by banks? Supreme Court ruling paves way for lawsuits
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling will help clear a path forward for a number of lawsuits the city of Los Angeles has brought against major banks for alleged discriminatory lending practices. By a 5-3 vote, the court ruled that a city can be an “aggrieved person” in a lawsuit against a  bank over violations of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and not just an individual.
One of L.A.’s first Mexican-American attorneys has spent 46 years fighting for his people
Miguel García, who’s among the most accomplished civil-rights litigators from L.A.’s Chicano Power era, sold his law practice on Whittier Boulevard in East L.A. a year ago and packed up 46 years’ worth of legal mementos. He kept the cards he received from the clerk’s office at the California Supreme Court granting him hearings in 1973, ’74 and ’75.
Durst’s 2nd wife helped conceal killing of first, suit claims
For nearly 20 years, Debrah Lee Charatan has tried to stay outside the media spotlight trained on her husband, Robert A. Durst, who is facing trial in Los Angeles in the killing of Susan Berman, his confidante. But that may be ending. In a $100 million lawsuit filed Monday in State Supreme Court in Mineola, N.Y., by Carol Bamonte, Mary Hughes and Virginia McKeon, the three sisters of Mr. Durst’s first wife, Kathleen Durst, Ms. Charatan is described as a “coldblooded opportunist” who in cooperation with Mr. Durst “conspired and agreed to conceal the whereabouts” of Kathleen Durst’s body from her family.
Court of Appeal rejects immunity defense in suit by child hit by errant golf ball
The immunity afforded a public entity from liability for the dangerous condition of a recreational trail was held inapplicable yesterday in a case where a flying golf ball from a revenue-generating city golf course struck a pedestrian on an adjacent walkway. Div. Two of this district’s Court of Appeal reversed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Howard L. Halm’s grant of summary judgment to the City of Pasadena in an action on behalf of a child injured by an errant golf ball as his mother pushed him in a stroller on a walkway next to the 15th hole of the C.W. Koiner Course of the city’s Brookside golf facility.