Monday Morning Memo for October 9, 2017
Share this post on social media or by email
Shoplifter sentenced for 8th theft conviction
A local shoplifter escaped a prison sentence but will serve 150 days in jail for stealing more than $200 in clothes and make-up. On Sept. 22, Tulare County Superior Court Judge Gary Johnson sentenced Tyree Bonner, 37, of Visalia for the crime. She was previously found guilty by jury on Sept. 15, 2017 of petty theft and giving false information to a police officer. Both counts are misdemeanors.
Maria Gutzeit: Wakeup call along the wash
A wakeup call rang last Tuesday morning: an assault occurred on the bike path. It wasn’t a surprise given the drug usage and encampments along the river, but now it has the City’s attention. We should all support the City and the Sheriffs in taking steps to prevent things from getting worse. I went out for a quick bike ride last Tuesday morning. My cycling neighbor caught up to me.
Early jail release to blame for rising property crime?
Vandals smashed through the front of a Citrus Heights coffee shop, and it’s not the first time. Police say property crime is on the rise throughout the city and say California laws may be to blame. “Glass was all over in here, it was in the sofas, the whole nine yards,” said the owner of Java Cherry, Louise Cordray. It’s a scene Cordray has sadly seen before: a shattered front window at her coffee shop.
Prison starting new programs to help inmates rehabilitate
Much attention has been on the Department of Corrections in recent months, and rightly so. While we focus on the daily challenges of a round-the-clock operation ensuring public safety and security, we should not minimize the good that happens behind these barbed-wire fences. The mission of corrections is rehabilitation and reintegration, to ensure that behaviors which led individuals to commit crimes are diminished and good behaviors reinforced.
Teen accused of killing family moved out of juvenile system in South Lake Tahoe
It’s been almost two years since Nolen Buchanan of Benicia, California first appeared in a Placerville courtroom as a 16-year-old, charged with the killing of his family in their El Dorado County vacation home and then setting it on fire. The charred remains of Buchanan’s father Adam, 38, his father’s fiancée Molly McAffe, 37, and his 8-year-old brother, Gavin, were found in that Greenville cabin on September 13, 2015.
For black women, finding work after prison has added challenges
Ingrid Archie might still be unemployed if A New Way of Life, a nonprofit organization helping formerly incarcerated women, had not offered her a job. “It was close to being very difficult for me to find employment,” said Archie, 36. “I didn’t find employment outside of the organization.” Archie has been incarcerated more than once.
Low-level offenders may be diverted from prosecution, into counseling
About 1,500 people accused of low-level crimes in Ventura County may be diverted from prosecution each year under a program announced this week. District Attorney Greg Totten said the first-time misdemeanor offenders will be offered classes in which they learn techniques to prevent them from committing new crimes.
High Desert leaders: Collaboration key to solving crime problems
A contingent of High Desert leaders stressed collaboration is the key to solving the region’s crime problem during a Facebook Live forum at the Daily Press office on Monday morning. The meeting lost its three most prominent panelists – First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood, Sheriff John McMahon and District Attorney Mike Ramos – when news of the Las Vegas concert attack broke in the early morning hours.
Suspected shooter in deadly Chico robbery was on parole
Jason Jackson, the man police suspect robbed and fatally shot a Chico man Sunday night, was on parole for a drive-by shooting that happened in Oroville in 2014, prosecutors said. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Jackson, 21, was charged as an accomplice in a shooting that happened Dec. 24, 2014, in South Oroville.
LAPD pressured murder confession from teenager, court rules in overturning conviction
A federal appeals court has overturned a teenager’s murder conviction, saying Los Angeles policeviolated his rights by denying his request for a lawyer and pressuring him into a confession. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that detectives in 2005 continued to question then-14-year-old Jessie Rodriguez about a gang-related shooting even after he requested an attorney.
Immunity for officer who arrested ‘rail fan’ divides circuit
Police officers who handcuffed a teenage train enthusiast they worried was trying to sabotage the railroad should not face false-arrest claims, the Second Circuit ruled Friday. A self-described “rail fan,” Gregory Grice was 16 when his hobby sparked a 911 call on June 6, 2011.
DDA’s excusal of grand juror requires dismissing indictment
The Third District Court of Appeal on Friday issued a writ ordering that an indictment be dismissed because a deputy district attorney excused a potential grand jury because she just found out her employer wouldn’t pay her for five days of service and she needed the money. “The deputy district attorney’s exercise of authority he did not have over the grand jury, in front of the grand jurors, was not harmless,” Justice Jonathan K. Renner declared.
CRPOA’s successful lawsuit against California DOJ: Los Angeles Superior Court issues final judgment
The judgment in our successful lawsuit against the California Department of Justice has been posted to our website at “News – Legal Insights.” See https://crpoa.org/2017/10/crpoas-successful-lawsuit-california-doj/. The California DOJ has informed the CRPOA that it will not appeal this ruling, meaning it is final. The judgment orders the California DOJ to register a patrol rifle which a California reserve peace officer acquires pursuant to the written authorization of the head of the reserve peace officer’s agency (typically a Chief or Sheriff) in compliance with California Penal Code Section 30630(b).
City may condition limited immunity for marijuana shops on past tax payments
A city may restrict grants of limited immunity to those medical marijuana dispensaries that have been paying business taxes, the First District Court of Appeal held Friday, rejecting a trial judge’s view that this created a new penalty for dispensaries that had not paid taxes and was thus an ex post facto law.
Outgoing presiding judge praised for Sacramento court turnaround
With a two-year stint at the top of the bench coming to an end, Sacramento Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin Culhane is ready to hand over the reins and quietly blend back into the court’s daily operations. Perhaps he’ll make time to play the guitar in his band or fish for Mackinaw trout on Lake Tahoe, watch a little high school football.
Death penalty sought for man who killed 5 at homeless encampment
A jury returned a death penalty recommendation Monday for a gang member who gunned down five people at a homeless encampment near a Long Beach freeway and a sixth person in the Antelope Valley. The seven-woman, five-man panel deliberated for less than 2 1/2 hours before rejecting a life-without-parole option for David Ponce, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 27.
San Gabriel sex offender charged with molesting young girl
A registered sex offender from San Gabriel has been charged with sexually molesting a young girl and possessing child pornography. Ronald McKenzie, 66, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to nine felony counts: four counts each of committing a lewd act on a child and possession of child pornography after a prior conviction, along with one count of sexual penetration with a child 10 years old or younger.
Where did ex-L.A. School Board President get the $26,000 he allegedly mishandled?
Embattled former Los Angeles school board president Refugio “Ref” Rodriguez is facing three felony charges and 25 misdemeanor counts for an alleged scheme to launder money into his campaign. Rodriguez stepped down this week as president but has retained his seat on the school board for now.
Case involving LA sheriff’s deputy accused of raping female inmates ‘under review’ by D.A.
The case involving a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting two female inmates has been presented to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office, officials said this week. Giancarlo Scotti, 31, was arrested Sept. 13 while on duty on suspicion of two counts of rape under the color of authority and two counts of oral copulation, also under the color of authority.
Years after suing Insomniac, L.A. Coliseum panel to get $3.5 million in corruption scandal settlement
Rave promoter Insomniac and its chief executive, Pasquale Rotella, have agreed to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, which will result in a payment of $3.5 million to the government agency. The settlement, announced Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, marks the end of the six-year legal battle in the multimillion-dollar Coliseum corruption case, in which two longtime stadium managers were accused in court documents by the government of enriching themselves through “corrupt efforts” while two rave companies were allowed to underpay the Coliseum.
LAS VEGAS TRAGEDY
From the 32nd floor, Las Vegas gunman caused mass carnage despite security measures at concert
For decades, law enforcement has tried to keep one step ahead of terrorists who target large groups and venues. Authorities have beefed up security, employed metal detectors and chemical weapons detectors, erected barriers and more recently tried to better control traffic choke points where attackers strike as people tried to flee. But the Las Vegas mass shooting underscored how difficult it is to keep large groups safe despite precautions.
Las Vegas mass shooting: 2 LA County sheriff’s employees, 1 LAPD officer, Orange County deputy among wounded
More than a half-dozen Southland law enforcement and fire department officials were among those injured in the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. At least two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employees, two Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters, an Orange County sheriff’s deputy, a Los Angeles police officer and two Newport Beach employees, including an off-duty police officer, and were wounded in Sunday night’s shooting.
LAPD officer took his wife to a Las Vegas concert and ended up in a ‘war zone’
LAPD Officer John Kline and his wife Dawn were on their third annual visit to the Route 91 country concert series Sunday night when the gunfire began. “I walked to the front of the lounges and all I could describe it as was a war zone,” John Kline said. “There were people covered in blood.” He said he saw a man shot in the neck and women with a grapefruit-size stomach wound.
California’s top lawmakers bash gun lobby after Las Vegas shooting
California’s top lawmakers, state Senate Leader Kevin de León and state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon had some words for the gun lobby after the tragic shooting in Las Vegas. Rendon said in a statement that “police say the shooter appeared to have acted alone.” “That’s not true,” he said. “Every gun lobbyist and the politicians who do their bidding were all in that room with him.”
These Southern Californians died in the Las Vegas mass shooting. Here are their stories
The bullets fired from a Las Vegas hotel the night of Oct. 1 rained down on a music festival crowd full of Southern Californians. Authorities have yet to release a full accounting of victims, but families, friends and employers have begun sharing stories of their loved ones who died. Here are current – and a few former – residents of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties known to have perished at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival.
Rapid-fire device used in Las Vegas shooting already illegal in California
In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, federal law may catch up to California law when it comes to banning a tool you can buy online for $200 that makes your semiautomatic weapon mimic the rapid fire of a machine gun. “Bump fire stock” or bump stock for short has been generally considered illegal in California for several years, but it is legal federally.
Bail reform and the Arnold Foundation are under attack: Justice For All
Bail reform is getting pushback in New Jersey and California, where people freed by judges using a computerized risk-assessment formula have been accused of slayings after their release. A lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court after a recent killing in New Jersey and a complaint aired by the partner of a murder victim in San Francisco both cited the nonprofit Arnold Foundation’s risk-assessment method.
Bail reform: Awaiting trial, but can’t afford bond? Silicon Valley moving to free more suspects
While state and federal lawmakers continue to grapple with bail reform, Santa Clara County moved ahead Tuesday with a wide-ranging plan that includes creating a nonprofit fund to post bonds for low-risk defendants who otherwise couldn’t afford it. The fund is believed to be the first in California, cementing the county’s role as a statewide leader in a national reform movement.
Why some say Las Vegas mass shooting proves LA law enforcement should use drones
As law enforcement continue to gather evidence in Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, a terrorism expert said Monday the use of drones could assist local police in gathering real-time information if a similar shooting were to occur in Los Angeles. “Think about how useful a drone might have been if we have situations like this (Las Vegas shooting) now for large events,” said Brian Levin, director of The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino.
LAPD to tighten security at large public gatherings in wake of Las Vegas shooting
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said his department is beefing up security at large public gatherings in the aftermath of the massacre in Las Vegas. He also asked Angelenos to be “vigilant” and acknowledged that the LAPD officer who was wounded in the attack on a country music concert “will make a full recovery.” Some early media reports said the female officer had been killed.
Focus on halting exploitation of sex workers
On Sept. 20, the officers assigned to the Temecula Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing team and Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force decided it was necessary to conduct an undercover prostitution sting. According to a news release from the Sheriff’s Department, with which Temecula contracts for police services, 10 men were arrested for solicitation of prostitution.
California game changers: Moving the needle on drug reform
Short of launching a murderous drug war on the order of the one raging in Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, it’s almost impossible to stop people from taking illicit drugs. Incarceration hasn’t worked, nor has the deterrence of potential arrest. Addiction and physical dependence, whether on methamphetamine or oxycodone or heroin, is a disease, and it can’t be prosecuted away.
LASD Sgt. Steve Owen, slain in line of duty in 2016, honored with highway dedication
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Steve Owen, who was fatally shot in the line of duty last year, was honored for his life of service in a highway dedication on Thursday. Owen was killed during a burglary response on Oct. 5, 2016. Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of his death. To memorialize Owen’s life and service, crews along Highway 14 will install a sign marking the “Steve Owen Memorial Highway.”
Could scrapping gang list have unintended consequences?
Reflecting criminal justice reforms sweeping the country, the Portland Police Bureau has announced it will no longer identify anyone as a gang member or associate – and will purge the hundreds of names in its existing gang list. According to the bureau, the change, announced on Sept. 8, was made because being labeled a gang member or affiliate can have lifelong negative consequences for those trying to overcome the challenges they face.
Bill on governor’s desk could reduce penalties for gun use during a crime
California has imposed multiple restrictions on guns in recent years, including restrictions on gun capacity, possession and even purchase of ammunition. Yet SB 620, which has been sent to the Governor for his approval or veto, would loosen penalties for those convicted of using a gun in a crime. Multiple shots fired during a drive-by shooting into a crowd of innocent people the shooter didn’t know, striking one-that’s the crime committed by the person Senator Steven Bradford picked as the poster boy for his legislation.
This California bill would erase life without parole sentences for juveniles
A bill awaiting California Governor Jerry Brown’s signature would end mandatory, life-in-prison sentences for youth offenders in the state. Under the proposed law, Senate Bill 394, anyone under the age of 18 with a life sentence now or in the future would be entitled to a parole hearing by their 25th year of incarceration.
Acosta’s public safety, local control bills get governor’s signature
Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) saw two of his bills signed into law last week, one a matter of public safety for the whole state and one specific to the Santa Clarita Valley. “This was a successful first year in the legislature,” Acosta said in a statement to The Signal. “We made strides to streamline government, protect our families and friends from criminals and advanced our district’s needs.”
California bill takes aim at dark money in politics – will Jerry Brown sign it?
The barely legible print that briefly flashes on-screen at the end of political ads will be gone, replaced by information people can clearly read, if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a closely watched bill targeting “dark money” in campaigns. The unions, corporations or billionaires behind the money would be listed, rather than the obscure committees with misleading, feel-good names that wrote the checks.
Stop AB 953 from sidelining our law enforcement officers
Over the course of the last few months, I have written and spoken about many of the challenges that the High Desert region, San Bernardino County, and the Inland Empire face in dealing with crime. While many of our elected officials are attempting to find ways to deal with this issue, the California Assembly and Senate have decided to implement AB 953, the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015.
New law bans interfering with a state audit, after UC tampering
Anyone who knowingly interferes with the duties of California’s independent state auditor will be fined up to $5,000 under a bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown. Under the law, which will take effect on Jan. 1, people who obstruct a state audit “with intent to deceive or defraud” will have to pay the fine.
California’s right-to-die law: One woman’s last days have powerful impact on family and friends
Jil Finnegan wanted to die on the anniversary of the day she married Geoff Protz 14 years ago. The pact that the petite environmental engineer made with her husband wasn’t meant to be macabre. If anything, the couple agreed, it was a way to complete the circle of their marriage vows. Not until death would they part. And they would get to pick the time and the place.
California lawmakers weigh free speech, public safety
Lawmakers listened and asked questions but offered no concrete solutions Tuesday in the first of several California legislative hearings planned to discuss how to balance free speech rights with public safety. The hearings arose after a violent clash between white supremacists and anti-racist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrats, called for senators to look into potential legislation.
Brown signs bill separating sections from State Bar
Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday signed into law SB 36 which will detach all 16 sections from the State Bar, moving them, along with the California Young Lawyers Association, into a private nonprofit corporation. The State Bar, established as a unified bar in 1927-supplanting the voluntary California Bar Association-now becomes strictly a state disciplinary and regulatory agency, with professional activities shifted into a lawyers-only group.
Crime Expert: Proposed CA gun regulation bill will favor violent criminals
California has imposed many restrictions on guns in recent years, including restrictions on gun capacity, possession and even purchase of ammunition. Yet SB 620, which has been sent to Governor Brown, would loosen penalties for those convicted of using a gun in a crime. President of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys Michelle Hanisee says if passed, the bill would tip the scales of justice in favor of violent criminals.
Program looks to stop the Skid Row to jail pipeline
Jose Garcia waited near the cell block door for his client-a tall man in his 50’s dressed in blue pants and a yellow shirt, a variation of the standard outfit on the second floor of the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, the Los Angles County jail system’s destination for inmates experiencing mental health problems.
Government jobs sprouting as legal pot looms in California
Scientists. Tax collectors. Typists. Analysts. Lawyers. And more scientists. Recreational marijuana use becomes legal in California in 2018, and one of the things to blossom in the emerging industry isn’t green and leafy – it’s government jobs. The state is on a hiring binge to fill what eventually will be hundreds of new government positions by 2019 intended to bring order to the legal pot economy, from keeping watch on what’s seeping into streams near cannabis grows to running background checks on storefront sellers who want government licenses.
Los Angeles’ midnight beach curfew might get washed out to sea
You know those late nights on Venice Beach? The ones spent lying in the sand staring up at the sky, drifting in and out of consciousness while you consider whether or not it would be okay to doze off right there on the shoreline? And then, just when you’ve decided that it is okay, an LAPD officer shines a bright light in your face and informs you that it’s time to go because the city of Los Angeles has a beach curfew that prohibits public beach access between midnight an 5 a.m.?
Contractor named in Montebello fake-bidding lawsuit says city manager, two others ‘responsible’
The attorney for a Hacienda Heights contractor, accused of subverting Montebello’s competitive bidding rules in a $500,000 whistle-blower lawsuit, alleges in a countersuit the city manager and two other officials are “responsible” for the fake bidding scheme. Thomas J. Ryu, attorney for David Magallanes, owner of JCS Construction, alleged in a court filing that Montebello City Manager Francesca Tucker-Schuyler, Assistant City Manager Danilo Batson and David Tsuen, information systems manager, should reimburse his client if he is held liable in the underlying lawsuit.
Pension costs ‘crowding out’ spending on parks, schools and social services, report says
California governments likely will make do with fewer teachers, parks employees and other public workers while they struggle to absorb fast-rising pension costs in the next few years, a former state lawmaker argues in a study released this week through Stanford University. Former Democratic Assemblyman Joe Nation projects that many cities, counties and school districts will double their spending on pensions by 2030, “crowding out” their ability to fund public services.
LA considers first ever city-owned public bank in US
Would a city-owned public bank address some of Los Angeles’ pressing issues – such as affordable housing, small businessgrowth and financing for municipal projects – while also freeing the city from the influence of private banks who put shareholder interests over those of the public good? That’s what L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson believes. In July, Wesson issued a challenge to the council to create the nation’s first ever city-owned bank.
Supreme Court shuts door on challenge to UC policy on immigrant tuition
The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it will not take up a conservative group’s challenge to UC Regents’ decisions that allow undocumented immigrants in California to pay in-state tuition fees and to receive financial aid. In-state residents now pay $12,630 a year in tuition and fees to attend the University of California, compared with $40,644 for out-of-state residents.
California to become a ‘sanctuary state’ in 2018
Gov. Jerry Brown placed new limitations on state and local law enforcement’s ability to help the federal government enforce immigration violations by signing California’s controversial “sanctuary state” bill into law on Thursday. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León introduced Senate Bill 54 weeks after the 2016 election to stifle President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to ramp up deportations and prevent the federal government from using California police officers to accomplish his goal.