Courts, Rulings & Lawsuits

Court overturns part of 2021 California law modifying ‘three strikes’

Part of a California law allowing “three strikes” inmates to seek reductions in their life sentence if their third felony conviction was neither serious nor violent was ruled invalid Friday by a state appeals court, which said it conflicted with the voters’ intent to protect the public. In a separate case Friday, another state appeals court relied on another section of the same law to order resentencing, with a possible release from prison, for a man serving 11 years for a 2016 assault conviction.

San Francisco Chronicle

Judge curbs Newsom’s early inmate release scheme

A Sacramento Superior Court judge has held that the Newsom Administration’s effort to grant early releases to tens of thousands of prison inmates is invalid when it comes to offenders sentenced to indeterminate sentences, most of whom are sentenced for violent crimes. The December 13 decision came in a lawsuit brought by the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation (CJLF) on behalf of the families of crime victims. 

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation News Release

Lawsuit challenging L.A. County’s new limits on cash bail suffers major setback

A lawsuit challenging the legality of L.A. County’s new bail schedule suffered a major setback Monday, after a judge ruled the move to severely limit the use of cash bail does not violate the state Constitution. The complaint, filed by a dozen L.A. County cities in late September, sought an injunction barring the Los Angeles County Superior Court from using the new schedule. 

Los Angeles Times

Judge wasn’t obliged to instruct jury on vehicular manslaughter in DUI death

Div. Three of the Fourth District Court of Appeal yesterday affirmed the second-degree murder conviction of a man who, driving while intoxicated, lost control of his vehicle, running into and killing a 6-year-old girl, rejecting his contention that he was unfairly prejudiced by the prosecution not charging the lesser related offense of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and the judge not instructing the jury on that offense sua sponte.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Judge rules BLM leader’s lawsuit against LAPD can go forward

A federal judge has ruled that a civil rights lawsuit may proceed against the Los Angeles Police Department and several officers in a case brought by the founder of Black Lives Matter South Pasadena, who alleges excessive force was used against her at a George Floyd protest three years ago, according to court papers obtained Friday.


Secret recording of gun purchase was not a ‘search’

Two undercover agents and a confidential informant who were granted entry into a motel room for the ostensible purpose of purchasing a firearm and who recorded the transaction by means of audio- and video-devices concealed on their persons did not exceed the implied license granted by the occupant, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held yesterday. 

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Supreme Court sides with 83-year-old woman forced to her knees during traffic stop

Elise Brown was a little over 5 feet tall and weighed all of 117 pounds when she was ordered out of her blue Oldsmobile by police in California in 2019. She was also 83 years old. The officers who pulled Brown over thought the car she was driving had been stolen - mistakenly, it turns out - and, following their protocol, they drew their handguns, handcuffed Brown and forced her to her knees.

USA Today

ACLU says it will represent the NRA in Supreme Court case

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced on Saturday that it will represent the National Rifle Association (NRA) at the Supreme Court in an upcoming First Amendment case. In NRA v. Vullo, the group sued former superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) Maria Vullo for allegedly violating the First Amendment by pressuring insurers to stop servicing them.

Tampa Free Press

The FBI took $86 million from safe deposit boxes. An appeals court will decide if that's constitutional

FBI agents cataloged Cartier bracelets, Rolex watches and stacks of cash as they combed through safe deposit boxes seized from a Beverly Hills business accused of money laundering. But the owners of many of those boxes were not accused of any crimes. After hearing arguments from both sides Thursday, a panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether the sweeping raid violated customers’ Fourth Amendment rights.

Fox News

US Supreme Court snubs challenge to gay 'conversion therapy' ban in Washington state

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to Washington state's law banning "conversion therapy" on children aimed at changing sexual orientation or gender identity in a case brought by a Christian therapist who calls the 2018 measure an affront to free speech rights. The justices turned away plaintiff Brian Tingley's appeal of a lower court's decision to throw out the case, rejecting his claim that the state is unlawfully censoring the way he speaks to his therapy clients in violation of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment right to freedom of speech.



Suspected child molester's victims worry LA DA will prosecute him as juvenile

Rudy Paz is a 25-year-old Los Angeles man who prosecutors accuse of molesting children as young as 4 for years, but they don't have any evidence of him continuing the abuse after his 18th birthday. So, he might face juvenile punishment despite being an adult. That's what happened to Hannah Tubbs, a 26-year-old child molester and convicted killer whose light sentence sought under Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon's direction didn't include the requirement he register as a sex offender.

Fox News

Homeless Homicides: Suspect in recent killings charged with four counts of murder

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has charged a man with four counts of murder following a series of shootings that killed three people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. The suspect, 33-year-old Jerrid Joseph Powell, was arrested on Nov. 30 by the Beverly Hills Police Department during a vehicle stop when he was found driving a car connected to the recent killing of Nicholas Simbolon in San Dimas, where he was accused of robbing the victim before fatally shooting him in his garage.

LA Downtown News

Gascón’s bid to overturn cop killer’s conviction foiled

In the previous article, I brought to the public’s attention a covert plan orchestrated by Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón aimed at securing the release of a convicted cop killer and prominent figure within the Mexican Mafia from state prison. Earlier this week, in response to tenacious reporting that exposed the activities of Gascón and his inner circle, the District Attorney belatedly said he wanted to keep that murderer locked up.


Orange County D.A. blasts L.A. while announcing home burglary arrests

Authorities in Orange County have announced the arrests of 20 people, including five juveniles, allegedly tied to a prolific home burglary crew that hit dozens of homes. “As of now, we have 35 known burglaries tied to this crew,” said Sheriff Don Barnes at a Thursday news conference. “It is believed that there may be additional burglaries and our investigative teams will continue of their investigation.”


Los Angeles area plagued by antisemitic attacks in 'tsunami' of hate: Advocates

Antisemitic hate incidents have plagued Los Angeles County since Hamas launched a surprise terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced Tuesday charges against two men, Klinton Allister Dion and Jarris Jay Silagi, for alleged antisemitic hate crimes, including vandalism and assault.

ABC News

2 Los Angeles County men exonerated after spending decades in prison

Two men who spent decades in prison for crimes they didn't commit have been exonerated and freed, the Los Angeles County district attorney announced Wednesday. Giovanni Hernandez and Miguel Solorio had their convictions vacated earlier this year and on Wednesday a judge found them factually innocent, the District Attorney's Office said in an email. At a news conference, District Attorney George Gascón apologized to both men.


DA's Race

DA Gascon tried to side-step California’s three strikes law

California’s “three strikes” law is widely popular and widely credited with cutting crime. It is also the bete noir of the progressive prosecutor and the “justice reform” movement, being blamed for excessive incarceration and arrest and sentencing racial disparities. The moment he entered office, current Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon instituted a blanket policy of never filing “strike” enhancements and working to remove existing strikes from defendant’s record that they happened to have when charged with a new crime.

California Globe

The race is on for LA County DA - and in greater numbers

The filing period for the 2024 California Primary Election closed on December 8, and the largest number of challengers in modern Los Angeles County history is now arrayed to square off against incumbent District Attorney George Gascon. A total of 12 individuals - Gascon and 11 others - have qualified to appear on the March 5 Primary ballot. In the last 20 elections for District Attorney, there were four occasions where six people rounded out the field.

James R. Bozajian/Councilmember, City of Calabasas

Poll shows Gascon weak in Los Angeles DA’s election race

Is fifty one-and-a-half weeks all the time George Gascon has left in office?

A new poll on the state of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s election race shows Gascon remains deeply unpopular and - even if were to finish in the top two in the March primary to make the November runoff - he would most likely lose then - badly.

California Globe


A former Los Angeles police detective for years hid the truth about how she killed her ex's new wife. Now, she could go free.

A former Los Angeles police detective was convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend’s wife in 2012, more than two decades after Sherri Rasmussen was killed in her Southern California condo. But last month parole officials concluded that Stephanie Lazarus, the former detective who was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison, is eligible for parole.

NBC News

LAPD moves to accommodate new DACA officers who can't personally own guns

The LAPD plans to adjust its policies this week to empower some of its newest officers, who are also DACA recipients, to possess their department-issued firearms while off duty. Federal law would generally prohibit such a person, who's in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy, from possessing a gun or ammunition, but by LAPD making their off-hours part of the, "performance of their official duties or other law enforcement purpose," these officers would be allowed to carry their guns while away from work, according to a new policy memo.


More on CRPA v. LA Sheriff’s Department

As announced Monday, CRPA took a huge step in our ongoing campaign to ensure the every jurisdiction in California follows the procedures required by the Bruen decision as they administer their CCW application and issuance processes. Our newest lawsuit, CRPA v. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, seeks to rectify some of the obstacles faced by CCW applicants in both LA County and in the City of La Verne, which is a separately named defendant in the suit. 


Homeless vets can pursue lawsuit for housing on flagship VA campus in West LA

A group of homeless veterans who suffer from mental or physical disabilities can proceed with their lawsuit to force the federal government to provide them with supportive housing on the 388-acre, flagship Veteran Affairs campus in West Los Angeles. U.S. District Judge David Carter at a hearing Thursday in downtown LA denied motions to dismiss the lawsuit, which was brought by the VA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.

Courthouse News Service

California lawmakers urge study of lower prosecution thresholds for retail theft

California Republican legislators are urging the nonpartisan Little Hoover Commission to analyze retail theft and how Proposition 47, which largely decriminalized drug use and reduces theft under $950, even for serial offenders, to a misdemeanor, impacts retail theft, and recommend policy solutions. According to the Council on Criminal Justice, reported shoplifting increased 61% from 2019 through 2023 in Los Angeles. 

The Center Square

Gun dealers flee California as local authorities ratchet up red tape

Firearms dealers are leaving California as localities in the state increase the amount of red tape needed to open stores, the Los Angeles Times reported. California saw over 518 dealers shut down in the last 20 years, a 17% decline, according to the Los Angeles Times. California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, including requiring a “safety certificate” to purchase handguns and a ban on certain semi-automatic firearms, according to the National Rifle Association.

Tampa Free Press

California Supreme Court to weigh in on 2024 tax initiative before it even gets to the ballot

The California Initiative and Referendum process is no doubt a complicated one, rife with controversy and arguably in need of overhaul. I am normally astounded at what a California ballot looks like with not only choices for candidates at various levels of government available, but also with many ballot questions and their interpretive statements straining the bounds of what ought to be a single-page document.

California Globe

Los Angeles City/County

Man accused of robbing armored car received ‘compassionate release’ from previous sentence for same crime

A man accused of robbing an armored car at gunpoint earlier this year had previously served 26 years in federal prison and was granted “compassionate release” by the state of California, which is typically reserved for inmates diagnosed with terminal diseases or other debilitating illnesses. Markham David Bond, 60, of Inglewood was arrested in November for allegedly robbing a Brinks courier at gunpoint in a Chase bank parking lot on South Sepulveda Boulevard in Westchester on Aug. 18.


LA’s payroll system, already over budget, needs millions more for upgrades

The Los Angeles City Council is expected to approve millions of dollars in additional spending Friday for a new payroll system that has yet to direct deposit a single employee paycheck, is two years behind schedule, and was already over budget. "This is an absolute cannot fail, must achieve, must get there," said Councilman Tim McOsker at a committee meeting earlier this month, when the latest request for additional funding was given initial approval.


Kids complained for years about sexually abusive probation officers. Some of them still work for L.A. County

The girls said they were molested in bed and raped in an administrative office, leered at in the communal shower and surveilled in the bathroom. If they told, they said, they were threatened with solitary confinement and revoked phone privileges. If they stayed quiet, they might get out a few weeks early. Starting in the late 1990s, the complaints by young girls incarcerated at Camp Scott began to pile up - all alleging similar sexual abuse by the same man: Thomas E. Jackson, then a deputy at the Santa Clarita juvenile camp.

Los Angeles Times

State regulators find mold, broken toilets, missing fire safety records in L.A. County jails

When state regulators showed up to inspect Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles in September they found broken toilets, moldy towels, rodent droppings and cell gates that wouldn’t lock. It appeared that guards weren’t doing their required hourly checks, and, according to state records, the facility had no proof of monthly fire inspections.

Los Angeles Times

After I-Team report, LA mayor says she now has plan to dismantle RV encampments

TV cameras were rolling as the mayor's office made headlines Wednesday by giving the go-ahead to dismantle a huge RV encampment on Forest Lawn Drive, but initially said there were no plans clear any of the other hundreds of other RV encampments across Los Angeles. "I think there are other solutions," Mayor Karen Bass told the I-Team. "The RV situation is very complicated.”



Aspiring court reporters in limbo as California courts struggle

Vanessa Huerta has spent over a decade working to become a court reporter in California, a state that desperately needs her services. But she isn’t a court reporter yet. Instead, Huerta and many other students are stuck in a system of trying and failing to fill this well-paying, much-needed role of creating and protecting verbatim records of court proceedings.

Bloomberg Law

Carnegie Mellon graduate alleges 'cruel campaign of antisemitic abuse’

A Jewish woman and graduate of Carnegie Mellon University is suing the school in federal court, alleging she faced “a cruel campaign of antisemitic abuse” by campus faculty and administration. Yael Canaan, 23, a New Jersey resident of Israeli ancestry, filed her complaint in U.S. District Court for Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh. The allegations involve her time in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Architecture between 2018 and this year.

Trib Live

Firefighters pursue lawsuit over safety gear standard they once supported

The largest union of firefighters is suing a standard-setting organization it says conspired with the manufacturer of Gore-Tex fabric and others to require chemicals known as PFAS in safety clothing - a standard the union itself supported for more than a decade and still requires in many of its collective bargaining agreements with municipal governments.

Legal Newsline

17-year-old from Tulare County becomes youngest person to pass California bar exam

A 17-year-old boy from Tulare County has made legal history by becoming the youngest person ever to pass the California bar exam, according to the Tulare County District Attorney. Law clerk Peter Park passed the difficult test on his first try at the age of 17. Research shows that the previous record holder was an 18-year-old. Park was 13 years old when he first started high school at Oxford Academy in Cypress, CA in 2019.


California faces record $68 billion budget deficit, nonpartisan legislative analyst says

California is facing a record $68 billion budget deficit, state officials announced Thursday, forcing hard choices for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in his final term as he works to build his national profile. The nation’s most populous state - with an economy that is the fifth largest in the world - has been struggling since last year because of the rising prices of most goods and services and how the U.S. government has been trying to control it.



Father of 4 shot and killed while sitting in car in South LA was out buying Christmas presents

The man shot to death while he sat in his car at a South Los Angeles gas station was identified Monday as a father of four. On Tuesday, family and friends gathered near the scene of the shooting to mourn the dad, who was out buying Christmas presents. The shooting was reported at 11:08 p.m. Sunday in the 8500 block of South Hoover Street, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.


Palmdale Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Alarcón held, suspected of DUI

Palmdale Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Alarcón was arrested early Friday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said. Alarcón, 44, was pulled over around 3 a.m. after officers observed her “driving erratically” in downtown Glendale and making wide turns into opposing lanes, according to the Glendale Police Department. Officers conducted a DUI investigation and arrested Alarcón on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI.

Los Angeles Times

Man accused in Tarzana dismemberment murders delays answering charges

The man charged in the murders of his wife and her parents, who vanished from their home in Tarzana last month, made a second appearance in court Friday but put off entering pleas to the charges. Samuel Bond Haskell, 35, was led into a fifth-floor courtroom at the Clara Shortridge Foltz justice center with his hands shackled at his waist. He was shirtless and dressed in special jail clothing designed to prevent suicide attempts.


Stiiizy’s founder built an L.A. cannabis empire, while being landlord to illegal dispensaries

The sign on the building said Jerry’s Liquor, but inside, Compton code enforcement inspectors found a cannabis dispensary called Fly High 20 Collective. The discovery of the black market dispensary in 2019 wasn’t unusual in a city plagued with them. But when authorities looked deeper into the property on Rosecrans Avenue, they found something startling: It was owned by Tony Huang, the man behind one of the cannabis industry’s biggest and most successful companies.

Los Angeles Times

Over $239 million worth of cocaine, including from a narco-submarine, seized in Pacific last month

Over 9 tons of cocaine from six separate drug smuggling events were seized last month and offloaded in San Diego on Wednesday, authorities said. The cocaine has an estimated street value of more than $239 million. It was recovered off the coasts of Mexico, Central America, and South America by two U.S. Coast Guard ships in November, the USCG said in a press release.

NBC News

LAPD seizes $300,000 worth of merchandise from organized retail theft ring

Officers seized dozens of diaper boxes filled with stolen merchandise during a raid of an organized retail theft ring in the Westlake District Wednesday night. The Los Angeles Police Department served two search warrants at a business near 6th Street and Alvarado Street. Officers hauled dozens of boxes out of the business and stacked them next to a tractor-trailer along the sidewalk. It appears that many of the items seized were diapers. 



Former LA County sheriff's deputy gets 2 years in prison for violating skateboarder's civil rights

A former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was sentenced to two years in federal prison for violating the civil rights of a man at a Compton skate park by improperly detaining him and then covering up his actions. Miguel Vega, 33, of Corona, called himself a monster in court Monday and apologized to the victim, who declined to come to court. He asked the judge to place him in a prison close to his family and two kids.


Sex offender Tubbs gets 15 years for manslaughter

At 17, Hannah Tubbs sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl in a Denny’s restroom in Palmdale. She received a two-year term at a juvenile facility after Los Angeles prosecutors chose not to request proceedings to transfer her to adult court, a decision that sparked widespread outrage after Tubbs bragged about the sentence on recorded jail calls. Now 27, Tubbs will spend significantly more time in custody, this time in an adult facility.


Teen shoplifter who stabbed LA shop owner defending his store to get 5 years

A teen shoplifter who was initially accused of murder in the stabbing death of a Los Angeles shopkeeper was sentenced to five years in a secure juvenile facility on voluntary manslaughter charges last week, per the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office. Initially, the office said at the time of the Oct. 1 incident last year, two 17-year-olds were charged with murder and second-degree robbery in the death of 56-year-old Fashion District vendor Du "Tommy" Lee.

Fox News

Articles of Interest

When the New York Times lost its way

Are we truly so precious?” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, asked me one Wednesday evening in June 2020. I was the editorial-page editor of the Times, and we had just published an op-ed by Tom Cotton, a senator from Arkansas, that was outraging many members of the Times staff. America’s conscience had been shocked days before by images of a white police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man, George Floyd, until he died.

The Economist

Redondo Beach councilman faces 2-year suspension from law for misappropriating money

The State Bar of California recommended that a Redondo Beach City Council member be suspended from practicing law for two years for misappropriating half a million dollars in client funds and misrepresenting what happened to the money. Councilmember Zein Obagi Jr., lead counsel for Obagi Law Group, was first charged by the State Bar’s Office of Trial Counsel in July 2021 with seven counts of professional misconduct. 

Los Angeles Times

Former Mar-a-Lago employee-turned-witness repeatedly contacted by Trump and associates before documents charges

Three months after the FBI seized classified records from Mar-a-Lago last August, a longtime employee of Donald Trump’s private club quit his job. Within days, the former president did something he rarely did - Trump called the former employee on his cell phone to ask why he was leaving after two decades of working at the resort, according to two sources and material seen by CNN.



Some Californians released from prison will receive $2,400 under new state re-entry program

Hundreds of Californians released from prisons could receive direct cash payments of $2,400 - along with counseling, job search assistance and other support - under a first-in-the-nation program aimed at easing the transition out of incarceration and reducing recidivism. Recipients will get the money over a series of payments after meeting certain milestones such as showing progress in finding places to live and work, according to the Center for Employment Opportunities, which runs the program announced this week.


Ex-California prison guard faces retrial in Code of Silence case

The retrial of an ex-California prison guard accused of a “Code of Silence” cover-up in the death of a 65-year-old inmate began Tuesday in Sacramento, with a prosecutor telling jurors that former Sgt. Brenda Villa falsified records to hide the fact that another guard had attacked the handcuffed prisoner. “This case is about how the defendant falsified records,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Rosanne Rust said in her opening statement of the second trial against Villa, who was convicted of perjury in July by another jury.

Sacramento Bee

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