Courts & Rulings
Re-sentencing ordered for two convicted in deadly Lancaster street brawl
A state appeals court panel Friday ordered re-sentencing for two of the four men convicted in connection with the shooting death of a man during a street brawl in Lancaster nearly a decade ago. The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal ordered a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to grant the petitions from Joshua R. Lockett and Terrell D. Henderson for re-sentencing as a result of a recent change in state law that affects defendants convicted in some murder cases.
C.A. reverses murder conviction of woman who placed infant in microwave oven
The Third District Court of Appeal yesterday reversed the first-degree murder conviction of a woman who killed her 6-week-old baby by placing her in a microwave oven and turning on the power. “This is an excruciatingly tragic case,” Acting Presiding Justice Elana Duarte said at the outset of her 72-page opinion in the case of Ka Yang who, on March 17, 2011, caused the death of her infant, Mirabelle Thao-Lo.
FBI breached rights of Beverly Hills safe deposit box holders: Judge
Federal authorities have suffered two new court setbacks in their attempt to confiscate tens of millions of dollars seized from Beverly Hills safe deposit boxes that the government was legally barred from searching. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner, in rulings issued Friday, rejected prosecutors’ rationale for keeping the cash that two people stored in the boxes they rented at the U.S. Private Vaults store on West Olympic Boulevard.
C.A. rejects effort to sidestep bar on actions for malpractice by those guilty of crimes
The bar on legal malpractice actions stemming from criminal proceedings where factual innocence is not shown applies to a suit brought by a man who pled guilty to tax evasion and claims that civil penalties were included in the plea agreement through his lawyer’s negligence, the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday, rejecting the contention that this was a civil matter outside the ambit of the rule.
Ninth Circuit rules against Calif. Gov. Newsom order barring private school in-person teaching
The California-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Friday ruled against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus mandates that barred private school children from receiving in-person teaching. In a suit brought forward in July 2020 by the Center for American Liberty, 20 plaintiffs challenged an order by Newsom that barred in-person teaching in 32 counties - a mandate that affected 80% of California’s children.
Petitioner seeking resentencing entitled to counsel
The California Supreme Court held yesterday that a defendant who was convicted of murder was entitled to appointment of counsel upon filing a facially adequate petition for resentencing based on his contention that he was found guilty under the now-repudiated “natural and probable consequences” doctrine, even though the Court of Appeal had previously determined that the conviction was pinned to a different theory.
Judge orders Katie Hill to pay more attorneys’ fees
A judge who previously dismissed Salem Media Group as a defendant in former Rep. Katie Hill’s revenge porn lawsuit, alleging nude photos of her were published without her permission, Friday ordered the ex-congresswoman to pay the company nearly $55,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.
Judge advances bellwether lawsuit against e-cigarette giant Juul’s corporate leaders
A sprawling class action over e-cigarette giant Juul’s marketing practices creeped closer to trial Thursday when a federal judge advanced conspiracy and fraud claims against the company’s founders, board members and its biggest investor. U.S. District Judge William Orrick III refused to dismiss the bulk of claims filed by 19 bellwether plaintiffs from 14 states in an expansive multidistrict class action.
OC Superior Court to require masks again after positive COVID-19 tests
The Orange County Superior Court will require face coverings for all those entering the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana regardless of vaccination status after two positive COVID-19 results were recorded at the facility, authorities said Sunday. The mandate will begin Monday and will remain in force for two weeks or until superseded by relevant updates, court officials said.
Nevada ‘ghost gun’ ban upheld by federal court
A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought by gun rights activists to block a new state law banning untraceable firearms, rejecting plaintiffs’ arguments that the ban violated Second Amendment rights and the Fifth Amendment’s ban on government property seizure. But in a separate proceeding, a state court judge sitting in Lyon County has enjoined one section of the law from being enforced while a full trial is held. The trial is scheduled for November.
Los Angeles District Attorney
LACO DA alleges retaliation for protesting Gascon juvenile directive
A veteran prosecutor is suing Los Angeles County, alleging she has been denied important positions in retaliation for complaining about directives set forth after the November election of District Attorney George Gascon. Deputy District Attorney Shawn Randolph's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed Tuesday, seeks unspecified damages.
Manhattan Beach considers misdemeanor prosecution contract with Redondo Beach
Manhattan Beach may ask its neighbor to handle smaller crimes - rather than the county. The City Council this week voted to have staff ask Redondo Beach for an estimate for how much it would cost to have its neighbor prosecute state misdemeanors committed in Manhattan Beach, which would pull that city from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s services on that level of criminal charges.
LA district attorney's past drives his push forward for reform
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón knows how to cope with controversy. He faced it as police chief in Mesa, Arizona, when he clashed with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his hardline immigration policies. And as San Francisco’s top prosecutor, he riled law enforcement groups after pushing for a host of reforms. Even so, more than seven months into Gascón’s new job as LA’s top prosecutor, resistance to his policies has reached dizzying peaks.
Gascón continues to fail victims
On Dec. 7, 2020, George Gascón was sworn in as Los Angeles County District Attorney. In the more than 200 days since, Gascón has launched a series of special directives upending criminal prosecutions in Los Angeles County. Gascón, never having tried a case in his career, decided to issue these special directives without any input from the vast number of prosecutors who have faithfully upheld the rule of law for their entire careers.
Man arrested in connection with alleged role in July 2020 Twitter hack
A citizen of the United Kingdom was arrested Wednesday in Estepona, Spain by Spanish national police pursuant to a U.S. request for his arrest on multiple charges in connection with the July 2020 hack of Twitter that resulted in the compromise of over 130 Twitter accounts, including those belonging to politicians, celebrities, and companies.
Man charged with hate crime in attack on Korean woman in Santa Monica
A 65-year-old man was charged Tuesday in connection with a hate crime attack on a Korean woman in Santa Monica. Melvin Taylor is charged with one felony count each of assault with a deadly weapon, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and attempted second-degree robbery, along with a hate crime allegation, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Two men accused of committing SCV felonies return to court
Two men accused of committing a felony in the Santa Clarita Valley returned to court this week. Scott Rodriguez: Former Deputy Director of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, accused of possessing child pornography, returned to court on Monday. Scott T. Rodriguez of Agua Darcy was an employee of LASD until he was dismissed from the county service after being charged with one count of possession of child pornography on January 22, this year.
Prosecutor sues DOJ, alleging discrimination linked to bias motivated by his Hispanic family members
An assistant U.S. attorney in the Santa Ana office of the Central District of California is suing the U.S. Department of Justice for discrimination and retaliation, alleging a culture of bias that punished him for “his associations with persons of color.” Charles Pell, a federal prosecutor since 2011, is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages for two claims brought under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Justice Department seizes rare, ancient tablet illegally auctioned to Hobby Lobby
The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it had seized a rare, ancient tablet that was sold to Hobby Lobby through an auction house under false pretenses. A federal court in Brooklyn, New York, ordered the forfeiture of a rare cuneiform tablet bearing a portion of the "Epic of Gilgamesh," a historic poem with roots in ancient Mesopotamia.
New state funding boosts prosecutor-led resentencing efforts in California
A new state-funded program encourages district attorneys to resentence some incarcerated people serving long prison terms that many now consider excessive. Nine DAs throughout California - including those in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties - will receive a portion of an $18 million pot earmarked in the recently approved state budget to help identify inmates who are no longer deemed a public safety risk, but still have years left behind bars.
SLO County CA cannabis grower charged with bribing Adam Hill
A San Luis Obispo County cannabis dispensary founder will plead guilty to bribing late county supervisor Adam Hill in exchange for favorable votes, influence over other government officials and confidential information, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Following robbery of Senator Boxer, DA’s call for withdrawal of dangerous petty theft legislation
Dan Dow announced today that he, along with his colleagues in the California District Attorneys Association, publicly call for withdrawal of Senate Bill 82 because it is absurdly unsafe for Californians. There was nothing petty about what happened to former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer yesterday - it was a violent robbery, and it was awful.
Newsom signs bill that bans police from posting mugshots of people accused of non-violent crimes on social media
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed into law a bill that bans police from sharing on social media the mugshots of individuals charged with non-violent offenses. Assembly Member Evan Low, a Democrat representing San Jose, sponsored the bill, known as AB 1475, and told the San Francisco Chronicle that he authored the legislation to reduce "unconscious bias" and "the assumption of guilt that" is created when police post booking photos online.
Political scapegoating to explain away rising homicide rates
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has reported a stunning 111 percent increase in homicides from January 1, 2021, to May 21, 2021, versus the same period in 2020. While current statewide numbers are not yet reported by the Department of Justice, California’s homicide rate in 2020 had a lower but still alarming 31 percent increase.
LAPD officer denounces progressive policies: Perps see 'crime pays' as communities give up on calling cops
A 25-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department lamented that progressive policy changes and the deterioration of law and order in many cities have sent a clear message to perpetrators: "Crime pays.” Deon Joseph, who was speaking to Fox News in his capacity as a law enforcement consultant and not a member of the force, said that message has been received loud and clear, especially in his home state, where Prop-47 drastically lowered criminal penalties for infractions such as theft and drug use.
Out of lockup and back again: high recidivism is widespread
Nearly three-fourths of prisoners released in 2012 were arrested within the next five years, according to a study released Thursday by the Department of Justice. Conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the data was collected across 34 states between 2012 and 2017 to gain insight on recidivism patterns across various demographics, commitment offenses and prior criminal histories.
Los Angeles County/City
For a Black LAPD officer, police reckoning brings pressure from protesters and fellow cops
Los Angeles Police Officer Michael Silva stood stoically on the steps of LAPD headquarters one night last fall as several young protesters, two in horror masks, taunted him with racial slurs and flashed the middle finger in his face. The demonstrators, who were Black, were protesting a grand jury decision not to charge officers in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in her home in Louisville, Ky.
Rates of COVID among LA law enforcement below that of general public (Video)
The news comes on the heels of an announcement that city employees will be required to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.
Disgraced attorney returns to sue city over restrictions on RV parking
A class-action lawsuit filed in federal court Monday alleges that parking restrictions being imposed by the city of Los Angeles violate the civil rights of people who live in recreational vehicles because they have no other place to live. The lawsuit, filed by civil rights attorney Stephen Yagman, seeks $1 million in punitive damages each against Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council members and other city officials but does not ask for monetary compensation.
Over Villanueva’s objections, LA County supervisors advance bid to open sheriff’s department records
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 27, approved an effort to open up Sheriff’s Department database records to the county’s Inspector General’s Office and other agencies, despite angry pushback from Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who called the county’s watchdog “corrupt” and the effort itself “utter nonsense.”
LA County Supes say more is needed to aid & protect grieving survivor families from law enforcement harassment & retaliation.
On Tuesday, July 27, 2021, the LA County Board of Supervisors passed a motion to offer aid and protection for families who’ve lost a loved one to a fatal shooting by law enforcement, and say they continue to be harassed and retaliated against by members of that same law enforcement agency - namely the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
LA County supervisors split over where to house juvenile offenders
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors broke ranks on Tuesday, July 27, over where to house juvenile offenders set to be transferred from state to county custody beginning in 2023, with a 3-2 majority voting to rethink renovating camps in the Santa Clarita Valley for this purpose.
Public Safety/Crime
Five killed, including Kern County deputy, during Wasco standoff
The coroner’s office has released the names of the alleged gunman and three people found dead inside a home in Sunday’s Wasco standoff. The 41-year-old alleged shooter was identified as Jose Manuel Ramirez Jr. A woman found dead in the home was identified as Viviana Ruiz Ramirez, 42, according to coroner’s officials, and a 24-year-old man as Jose Manuel Ramirez III.
Suspect arrested in double shooting at Corona movie theater
A suspect has been arrested in the deadly movie theater shooting in Corona that left an 18-year-old woman dead and a 19-year-old TikTok influencer on life support. Joseph Jimenez, 20, was arrested Tuesday night by Corona police and booked for murder, attempted murder and robbery. Authorities say it appeared to be an unprovoked attack and believe he acted alone.
WeHo suspect out on bond 1 day after alleged kidnapping
An alleged kidnapper is back out on the streets just one day after he was allegedly spotted in West Hollywood carrying an unconscious woman to his van and speeding away. Sheriff's deputies arrested Fernando Adrian Diaz, 50, early Friday morning. Investigators say he was a predator on the prowl, carrying an unconscious woman in West Hollywood's bar/nightclub area to his van and driving away.
Newsom denies crime spike, says Prop 47 allows for more investment in local communities (Video)
In an exclusive interview with FOX 11 earlier this week, anchor Elex Michaelson pressed Gov. Gavin Newsom on the controversial Prop. 47, asking whether or not that law has made California less safe.
California police sergeant rips Gov. Newsom for denying crime spike: He's living in a 'fantasy world’
Los Angeles Police Protective League vice president Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz slammed Gov. Gavin Newsom, D., for denying a statewide rise in crime on "Fox & Friends" Friday, saying Newsom was living in a "fantasy world" and crime data and numbers don't lie. SGT. JERRETTA SANDOZ: That's a fantasy world. Where are we living in? I mean, you could look at the numbers throughout California and the rest of the country.
Officials fight another attempt to send sexually violent predator to San Bernardino County
San Bernardino County officials have been notified that the Liberty Healthcare Corporation has, for a second time, proposed housing a sexually violent predator (SVP) from Orange County in San Bernardino County - now in Newberry Springs, a town of less than 3,000 residents west of Barstow. This is the third time in less than two years that Liberty has proposed placing a predator from another county in San Bernardino County on supervised release.
Man arrested for narcotics sales in connection with Venice homeless outreach organization
Narcotics Bureau investigators served a two-location search warrant in the Venice area of Los Angles on Thursday, July 22, 2021, after receiving information of a potential narcotics dealer disguising himself as a homeless outreach advocate. The investigation identified that narcotics dealer, Garry Featherstone (11/23/55), had been using a tent to facilitate narcotics sales to the local Venice homeless population and close proximity to the “Venice Bridge Home,” a transitional housing location close to his base of operations.
Suspect in Glassell Park Rite Aid murder surrenders to LAPD
A suspect has turned himself in to police in connection with the killing of a Rite Aid worker who had confronted alleged shoplifters, the LAPD said this morning. Anthony Lemus, 20, was arrested and booked on suspicion of murder after turning himself in at the LAPD Central Division station on Monday night, said homicide detective Raul Riojas. His bail was set at $2 million.
Amazon’s battle against product recalls is on after safety regulator sues
A U.S. safety regulator’s decision last week to sue Inc. could bring clarity to a question that has long befuddled courts and state legislatures nationwide: Who is responsible when a product bought from the world’s largest online retailer hurts or kills someone? In recent years, dozens of people who say they were harmed by products, such as exploding hoverboards, defective batteries or faulty dog collars, have sued Amazon for compensation.
Covid makes them do it
There is comfort to be found in self-delusion, especially when your delusion is shared among so many of your friends and admirers. Consider Lori Lightfoot, mayor of Chicago, the gutters of which are awash with the blood of shooting victims. As of this writing, 2,386 people have been shot and 434 murdered this year in the city, an average of twelve shooting victims and two murder victims every day.
Could crime surge push Newsom recall?
Those who want voters to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom joined crime victim advocates at the state Capitol last Tuesday to accuse the governor of being too lenient on lawbreakers as the state experiences a new wave of crime. They castigated him for unilaterally suspending executions of murderers and making it easier for felons to win release from state prisons.
Kim Gardner’s office slammed for ‘inexcusable’ conduct, high turnover, dropped murder cases
On Wednesday, July 14, a St. Louis judge dropped murder charges against an accused killer. A prosecutor from St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office never showed up to court hearings in May, June, and again on Wednesday, July 14 because she was on maternity leave. FOX 2’s You Paid For It investigator Elliott Davis said the Chairman of the Aldermanic Public Safety Committee Joe Vaccaro, demands answers.
San Francisco to pay $8 million to man wrongly imprisoned for 20 years
The city of San Francisco will pay $8 million to settle a lawsuit with a man who spent 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit after a police officer allegedly falsified evidence against him. Maurice Caldwell was released from prison on March 28, 2010, a few months before San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Charles Haines overturned his conviction on a finding that Caldwell's counsel had been ineffective.
Ed Buck convicted in connection with overdose deaths of two men (Video)
The prominent ex-political donor was accused in the deaths of two men found at his West Hollywood residence. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News at 4 p.m. on July 27, 2021.
Court upholds Long Beach man’s conviction for second-degree murder, child abuse
A state appeals court panel upheld on Monday a Long Beach man’s conviction for fatally shooting a man in the Rose Park South neighborhood, narrowly missing the victim’s 6-year-old former stepson. The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Jason Monroe Daniels’ claim that there were errors in his case, including a judge’s decision to revoke his right to act as his own attorney as his trial was already underway.
Judge sentences electrical engineer that stole military chip tech for China
A federal judge sentenced a Chinese electrical engineer to five years in prison for illegally exporting military technology from the United States to China. U.S. District Court Judge John Kronstadt sentenced Yi-Chi Shih, 66, of Hollywood Hills, to 63 months in prison because he took semiconductor chips with military applications to China without proper authorization and misled authorities about the nature and size of his assets in China.
Fund manager in UCLA’s history department pleads to grand theft charges
A Carson woman who worked as a fund manager for UCLA’s history department pleaded no contest Monday to stealing more than $300,000 from the university through fraudulent purchase orders and travel reimbursements. Diana Fonseca, 37, agreed to pay full restitution of $336,000 for the stolen funds in connection with her plea to six felony counts of grand theft, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Corrections & Parole
Audit: California prison program illegally spent $1.3M
A California prison program that employs inmates illegally spent $1.3 million on goods and salaries, including $82,000 in artificial turf that has gone unused, as part of a pattern of “gross misconduct,” state auditors said Tuesday. They recommended disciplinary action against California Prison Industry Authority employees who authorized the spending and also executives they said repeatedly circumvented state civil service laws to favor relatives and friends for jobs and promotions.
Planned early release of convicted Yosemite Lakes Park serial arsonist sparks outrage
A convicted arsonist responsible for setting a string of fires in Yosemite Lakes Park in Madera County is set to be released next week after serving just eight years of his original 30-year sentence. Kenneth Jackson was sentenced back in 2014 for setting 21 fires in 2013 in Yosemite Lakes Park, a community in Madera County between Yosemite National Park and Fresno, near the town of Coarsegold.
Parole recommended for Kern child killer
A man convicted of murder in the brutal torture slaying of a toddler and who boasted he would get away with it has been recommended for parole after spending the past 20 years in prison. The Board of Parole Hearings on Tuesday recommended parole for 50-year-old Michael Todd Panella, who beat his girlfriend’s 20-month-old son to death in 1999. Panella will be released unless the governor reverses the decision.
Convicted killer Daniel Wozniak moved out of San Quentin, sparking criticism
Convicted killer Daniel Wozniak has been moved out of San Quentin State Prison and into a lower-security prison, angering family members of the two people he murdered and leading local prosecutors to reach out to the victims of other killers who have been sentenced to death.
Articles of Interest
Employers have legal right to mandate COVID shots
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The state of California. New York City. Hospitals and nursing homes. Colleges and universities. Employers are putting COVID-19 vaccine mandates into place and it's getting attention. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said a requirement is under consideration for all federal employees. But what happens if workers refuse?
A voting rights group backed by athletes launches a campaign focused on criminal justice reform.
More Than a Vote, the organization launched a year ago by prominent Black athletes and entertainers to protect African Americans’ voting rights, is launching a campaign focused on the nation’s criminal justice system. The campaign, called Protect Our People, kicked off Monday with an episode of the HBO series “The Shop,” which is produced by the basketball star LeBron James and Maverick Carter, Mr. James’s close friend and business partner.
Criminal Negligence
The New York Times recently reported that Americans suffered 30% more homicides in 2020 than in 2019. “In Chicago and several other cities, last year was the worst year for killings since the mid-1990s.” Sociologist Patrick Sharkey, author of Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, The Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence (2018), said in a March 2021 interview with the Atlantic that a “huge surge” had made 2020 “the most violent year of the [21st] century.”
Pride patches on O.C. police uniforms: Progress or performative activism?
For decades, law enforcement has neither accepted nor embraced the LGBTQ community - especially not in traditionally conservative regions. Maybe that’s why Officer Erin Enos was shocked when the Seal Beach Police Department granted her request to create a rainbow-themed patch to be worn on police uniforms during LGBTQ Pride Month.
Bar exam this week may signal end of remote tests in many states
The run-up to this week’s bar exams across the country has been quieter than at any time since the coronavirus pandemic struck. Critics of the biannual exam and anxious test takers previously slammed the in-person tests held in some states, citing the risk of infection. They also panned the remote exams certain other states opted for, voicing concerns about facial image and proctoring technology.
Philadelphia Phillies owner must testify in legal fight between film producers
Thanks to a new ruling in Los Angeles Superior Court, tobacco magnate and Philadelphia Phillies owner John S. Middleton will have to give sworn testimony about his son’s drinking habits. The unusual decision comes in the midst of a nasty legal fight between John P. Middleton and former business partner Roy Lee, the veteran producer of It, The Departed and The Lego Movie.
Violent phase in pandemic hits as protests break out around globe
Twenty months into the coronavirus pandemic, a weary world is seeing protests - many violent - break out around the globe with people in vaccine-rich Western countries angry over the introduction of strict vaccination regimes and people in poorer nations fed up with broken economies and their governments' inability to bring the pandemic under control.
ABC10 sues to release messages between Newsom staff and PG&E regulators
California transparency laws call the ability to review records of government business “a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state,” but a powerful state agency seems to have found a simple way around that: dragging its feet. It started in November 2020 when ABC10 asked the California Public Utilities Commission to hand over messages between its top official and high-ranking staffers in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.
Public pension funding topped key threshold on stock-market gains
Public pension-plan funding topped a key benchmark for the first time in tracking history during the second quarter, buoyed by surging financial markets, according to a report released in July. The funded ratio - a metric that describes the amount of assets on hand to pay all expected liabilities for the coming 30 years - rose to 82.6% at the end of June for the 100 largest plans in the country, according to the Public Pension Funding Index from actuarial group Milliman.
Santa Rosa mulls bonds offering to knock down pension liabilities
Santa Rosa City Council is considering selling more than $100 million of bonds to raise cash for its growing pension debt, a step that could ease budgeting in years to come but carries enough risk that some municipal financing experts warn against it. The costs of expensive earlier pension plans and losses the California Public Employees' Retirement System accrued during the 2008 financial crisis will come to a head in the next 10 years, as annual payments Santa Rosa makes to the agency increase each year to peak at almost $43 million in 2031.
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