Courts & Rulings
Former UCLA lecturer not competent to stand trial on threats charges
A former University of California, Los Angeles, philosophy lecturer accused of circulating an 802-page manifesto pledging mass violence will not stand trial in February after a federal judge on Friday determined him to be mentally incompetent. Matthew Harris, 31, faces two counts of threats in interstate commerce, each carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Judge Klausner failed to engage in appropriate analysis
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated an action for libel and other torts against the company that stages the Mrs. World beauty contests, holding that District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner of the Central District of California failed to engage in an appropriate analysis in denying a motion to be relieved from his order dismissing the action.
District court suit by California inmate who protests smoking by cellmate is restored
An action by a California state prisoner against the prison’s health care grievance officer based on the decision not to move him to a single-occupant cell despite his complaint that his cellmate is a smoker, thus endangering his health, has been resuscitated by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Northern District of California on Jan. 13, 2022, ordered a dismissal with prejudice based on the failure of inmate Alvin Henry Dalton to state a claim.
A federal court blocks California’s new medical misinformation law
A federal judge in California has temporarily blocked enforcement of a new state law allowing regulators to punish doctors for spreading false or misleading information about Covid-19 vaccinations and treatments to their patients. The law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year, had been intended to address the waves of misinformation that have churned through the course of the pandemic.
Governor Newsom announces judicial appointments
Governor Gavin Newsom today announced his nomination of four Court of Appeal Justices: Justice Tracie L. Brown as Presiding Justice of the First District Court of Appeal, Division Four; Judge Tari Cody as an Associate Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Six; Judge Audra Mori as an Associate Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Four; and Judge Julia Kelety as an Associate Justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One.
Appeals court rejects J&J's plan to resolve talcum powder lawsuits
A federal appeals court rejected Johnson & Johnson’s attempt to resolve thousands of lawsuits claiming talcum powder causes cancer in bankruptcy court, saying a nearly unlimited financial guarantee the pharmaceuticals giant extended to a unit formed for that purpose meant it wasn’t actually insolvent. Acknowledging J&J was to some extent being penalized for its generosity, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals nevertheless dismissed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings for LTL Management, the unit J&J formed to hold its talc liabilities in October 2021 in a maneuver critics call a “Texas Two-Step.”
Ninth Circuit revives lawsuit over Idaho ban on trans athletes
A Ninth Circuit panel on Monday revived a transgender woman's constitutional challenge to Idaho’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, determining her temporary withdrawal from school did not make her case against the transgender athlete ban moot. In March 2020, Idaho Governor Brad Little signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act into law, which prohibited transgender women from participating in women’s sports, The law also requires female athletes to undergo testosterone and chromosomal screenings to verify their gender - something not demanded of male athletes.
Anthony Avalos: Boy looked malnourished, mom didn't seem upset witnesses said
A 10-year-old Lancaster boy looked dead when authorities were called to his home in 2018, but his mother didn't appear to be very upset, witnesses testified Monday in the murder trial of the woman and her boyfriend. Kenney Kinsner, a firefighter/paramedic with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, told Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta that Anthony Avalos "looked very sick" and "malnourished," and had cuts, scrapes and bruises from head to toe as paramedics tried to revive the boy while he was in full cardiac arrest June 20, 2018.
SoCal attacks: Suspect previously arrested for road rage and steroids
The man who allegedly carried out a series of violent road-rage attacks across Southern California allegedly had steroids and more than $30,000 when his vehicle was searched after an incident in 2020, according to the District Attorney's Office. Nathaniel Walter Radimak, 36, made his first appearance in court Tuesday, pleading not guilty to complaints from 12 people claiming he attacked them in their vehicles, and new details were released by the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office on its investigation.
LA County District Attorney pushing to remove La Puente councilmember from office
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office can move forward with efforts to remove La Puente Councilmember David Argudo from office because of his overlapping position on a local water district’s board, the state Attorney General’s Office has determined. Attorney General Rob Bonta gave local prosecutors permission on Jan. 26 to sue Argudo for allegedly holding two incompatible offices.
Suspect charged after high-powered rifles, shotguns, handguns found in man's home: Police
A suspect has been charged with possession of a high-powered weapon and making criminal threats after a cache of high-powered rifles, shotguns and handguns were recovered at a man's Los Angeles apartment. Braxton Johnson, 25, was arrested for criminal threats on Thursday, according to police.
Orange County sees its biggest election-related criminal case in years: 33 felony counts
It’s OC’s biggest election-related criminal case in years: 33 total felony charges against three people - including a former candidate for county supervisor - for allegedly submitting forged signatures to try to get a recall on the ballot against a Democrat councilwoman in Buena Park. County election workers noticed there was an abnormal rate of invalid signatures of voters on the ballot petition filings late 2019 - about half of all signatures submitted.
California AG sues Amazon over... low prices?
California Attorney General Rob Bonta is suing Amazon for harming consumers. Not by charging them too much, but by pushing merchants on its platform to charge the lowest prices available. According to the new world of antitrust theory promoted mainly by Democratic politicians like Bonta, Amazon uses its dominant share of the online market to bully smaller merchants into charging higher prices everywhere else - from their own websites to Walmart – in order to preserve high rankings on
Justice Department announces new arrests in plot to kill New York-based journalist directed from Iran
The Justice Department announced new arrests Friday in a plot to kill a New York-based journalist and human rights activist who is critical of the Iranian government. The three men charged, who are allegedly part of an Eastern European criminal organization with ties to Iran, are facing murder-for-hire and money laundering charges for plotting to kill journalist Masih Alinejad.
Prosecutors dispute Fortenberry’s appeal claims, including that he was wrongly tried in L.A.
Federal prosecutors in California pushed back Friday on appeals from former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry that he was wrongly convicted of lying to federal agents and that he was wrongly tried in Los Angeles, instead of Nebraska. In a 73-page filing, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in L.A. argued that at least three circuit court decisions have concluded the proper venue for a trial can be either the district where an offense was committed or where an offense was “directed,” or in this case, California.
Manslaughter charge for Alec Baldwin in 'Rust' set shooting
Alec Baldwin’s first court appearance has been set as he confronts accusations of firearm safety failures and involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a New Mexico film set. A New Mexico court on Wednesday scheduled Baldwin and film-set weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed to appear by videoconference before Santa Fe-based District Court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer in late February, leaving several weeks before the defendants may provide a formal response to felony charges.
Newsom's CARE Court challenged in court by disability, civil rights groups
Multiple disability and civil rights groups have asked the California Supreme Court to block Gov. Gavin Newsom's plan that could force severely mentally ill, unhoused people into court-ordered mental health treatment. Disability Rights California (DRC), Western Center on Law & Poverty and The Public Interest Law Project filed the lawsuit on Thursday, challenging the constitutionality of the plan known as the CARE Act, or CARE Court.
The inexcusable death of Tyre Nichols
You’ve heard the saying that one shouldn’t ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence. In the death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers, there is ample evidence of both. On Friday, officials in Memphis released four videos, each showing different views of the fatal police encounter with Nichols. Three of the videos were taken from body camera footage of involved officers, and the fourth was from a police camera mounted on a streetlight pole overlooking the intersection where Nichols was arrested.
California Assembly Republicans introduce package of bills to tackle crime
California Assembly Republicans introduced a package of bills Monday aimed at addressing crime. Their slogan? 'Make crime in California illegal again.’ “Crime is out of control in California,” said Republican Assembly Leader James Gallagher. Gallagher says Californians deserve to feel safe in their communities. Included in the list of new bills is one to repeal Proposition 47, which increased the amount someone can steal from $450 to $950 and still be considered a misdemeanor.
Charity seeks court order allowing demolition of building it owns
Catholic Charities Inc. is seeking a court order allowing it to demolish a 100-year-old building in the Westlake District which it purchased in 2018, but has been thwarted thus far from doing so by the city, initially on historical grounds and subsequently over environmental issues. The Los Angeles Superior Court petition states that the edifice at 846 S. Union Ave. was built in 1923-24, is three stories tall, spans 20,775 square feet and has been occupied by various organizations, beginning with the B’nai B’rith Lodge Association to most recently the Lighthouse Mission Church.
Santa Ana council members denounce police union recall campaign against them
With a crowd gathered at the steps of City Hall, several elected Santa Ana officials on Monday described a “coercion and blackmail” problem at their local police union. The declarations were made under the threat of rain that cloudy morning, as two City Council members in attendance - Jessie Lopez and Thai Viet Phan - currently face recall campaigns for supporting a December labor contract that went against the officer union’s pay-raise proposals.
State Bar of California moves to disbar Trump attorney John Eastman
The State Bar of California filed 11 disciplinary charges against Orange County attorney John Eastman on Thursday, arising from his efforts to help overturn the results of the 2020 election in order to allow then-President Donald Trump to remain in office. The state bar will also seek to disbar Eastman, stripping him of his license to practice law. "There is nothing more sacrosanct to our American democracy than free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power,” said Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona.
Federal appeals court hears case of hidden murals
A federal appeals court in New York is considering whether a law school in Vermont modified a pair of large murals when it concealed them behind a wall of panels against the artist’s wishes after they were considered by some in the school community to be racially offensive. Artist Sam Kerson created the colorful murals entitled “Vermont, The Underground Railroad” and “Vermont and the Fugitive Slave” in 1993 on two walls inside a building at the private Vermont Law School, now called Vermont Law and Graduate School, in South Royalton.
San Diego repeals controversial COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers
San Diego has repealed a controversial COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers that had led to multiple lawsuits, the firings of 14 employees and resignations by more than 130 police officers. City officials said drops in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in recent months prompted the repeal, which the City Council approved unanimously Tuesday. The council simultaneously voted to lift the city’s COVID-19 state of emergency declaration next month, following a similar move by the state that Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in October.
Cities are thinking about police staffing all wrong
Law enforcement, police unions and politicians nationwide are rallying behind demands for more officers on the streets, tying those calls to rising crime while warning of a future hiring crisis. But a Bloomberg News analysis shows that even as staffing levels dropped during the pandemic, nationally, police department headcounts exceed those of 15 years ago, when crime was higher. In major cities, staffing levels rose and fell over that period, with some changes corresponding to economic downturns and local crises.
Johnson & Johnson sues more experts over 'junk' science in talc lawsuits
The bankrupt unit Johnson & Johnson set up to handle litigation over cosmetic talcum powder has sued three more plaintiff experts it says published an influential 2020 article linking talc to mesothelioma without disclosing other sources of asbestos exposure among the study’s subjects. Last month, J&J’s LTL Management sued Dr. Jacqueline Moline, claiming her “widespread deception” about talc and mesothelioma had fueled thousands of lawsuits over Johnson’s Baby Powder.
Few LA crime reports linked to short term rentals
The LAPD recorded about 175 serious crimes at short-term rental locations around the City in the last three years, according to crime data that does not include the triple-murder and shooting at a home in the Beverly Crest neighborhood last weekend. Reports flagged about 75 incidents at short-term rental properties in 2020, 50 in 2021, and 48 in 2022, although there are indicators that the data pool is incomplete.
OC doctor identified as bicyclist struck by vehicle, stabbed to death by driver in Dana Point
A bizarre and violent incident is under investigation after Southern California authorities say a bicyclist died after being hit from behind while riding on Pacific Coast Highway in the Dana Point area, then attacked by the driver that hit them. The Orange County Fire Authority responded to a call of a cyclist being hit by a car near Crown Valley Parkway and East Pacific Coast Highway around 3 p.m.
Man arrested in connection to theft of French bulldogs at gun point
A man who allegedly stole two French bulldogs from their pregnant owner at gunpoint in Studio City in December has been arrested, authorities said Monday. Sammeiso Lewis, 27, of Las Vegas was taken into custody in Glendale on Thursday, and he was booked on suspicion of robbery, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Lewis has been charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office with one count of robbery, the LAPD reported.
Women arrested for allegedly ransacking Ventura County drugstores
Two women were arrested for allegedly ransacking drugstores in Ventura County on Saturday. The suspects were identified as 26-year-olds Kayla Thomas and Imani Adedji from Los Angeles, according to Simi Valley Police. Officers responded to a shoplift in progress at a CVS store at 4440 Alamo Street in Simi Valley around 4:09 p.m., police said. Before officers arrived, the suspects fled the store with around $800 in stolen merchandise, authorities said.
Pipe-wielding Tesla driver sought in L.A. road-rage attacks arrested: CHP
A Tesla driver accused of attacking motorists with a pipe in at least two road rage incidents in Los Angeles has been arrested, authorities announced Monday. Nathaniel Radimak, 36, was taken into custody Sunday evening by the California Highway Patrol. He was being held on $5 million bail. Police say Radimak is responsible for at least two road rage incidents that occurred on Jan. 11.
LAPD assists state task force on human trafficking (Video)
Police announced the results of a statewide crackdown on human trafficking. Hundreds of arrests including dozens of accused pimps, and many would-be customers. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4’s I-Team on Feb. 1, 2023.
Los Angeles City/County
Hugo Soto-Martinez's staffer called LAPD asking for 'extra patrol' on Lexus; Public points out hypocrisy
Los Angeles City Council Member Hugo Soto-Martinez's staffer called LAPD asking for "extra patrol" on their boss' Lexus. That request left some officers noticing the irony of the staffer wanting help from police after the staffer's boss, Soto-Martinez, was so open about pushing for the abolishment of police. In fact, Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz refers to Soto-Martinez as "Mr. Defund the Police."
New revelations and lies exposed: Uncovering the cover up in the Mitrice Richardson case
During the past thirteen years since Mitrice Richardson disappeared after being released shortly after midnight from the Lost Hills/Malibu Sheriff’s Station, absolutely no progress has been made by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in this case despite many promises made by former top cops 30th Sheriff Lee Baca and 33rd Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Board of police commissioners votes to reappoint Michel Moore as LAPD chief
The LA Board of Police Commissioners has voted unanimously to reappoint Michel Moore as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. Moore was appointed by the board Tuesday in a closed meeting to serve a second five-year term. The decision still needs final approval from LA Mayor Karen Bass. The mayor sent a letter to President Briggs expressing her support of reappointing Moore.
UC intends to dock pay of workers who went on strike
The raises University of California graduate student workers won after last year’s historic work stoppage come with a big caveat: Those same UC workers will have to repay all the money they earned while they were on strike. The UC “may not legally pay our employees or gift them funds if they did not provide a service to the institution,” wrote Ryan King, a spokesperson for The University of California Office of the President, in an email to CalMatters Friday afternoon. CalMatters
Election Denier Scott Perry also wants to deny the DOJ access to his phone
Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania now chairs the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives. The Freedom Caucus has had remarkable consistency with regard to its leadership: Mark Meadows preceded Perry, which means that now two consecutive chairmen of the Freedom Caucus had an intimate involvement with the white-shoe end of the attempt to keep the previous president in office in defiance of the expressed wishes of the United States of America.
Anesthesiologist arrested for Jan 6 violence after former friend saw Facebook video of him with Ashli Babbitt
A cardiothoracic anesthesiologist is facing federal charges in relation to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol after he was seen on social media footage “kneeling beside the woman shot inside,” an unsealed federal complaint states. The legal filing, made public on Tuesday, was seemingly referencing Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt who was shot by police and died of her injuries.
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried's under scrutiny for witness tampering
Federal prosecutors said FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried contacted the former general counsel of the crypto trading platform earlier this month in a move they say may constitute witness tampering. A spokesperson for Bankman-Fried declined to comment. Prosecutors with the US attorney's office for the Southern District of New York asked the judge to amend Bankman-Fried's bail conditions to prohibit him from communicating with current or former employees of FTX or its sister hedge fund Alameda research unless he is with his attorney or has approval from the government.
Soulja Boy sentenced to 240 days in jail for violating his probation
Rapper Soulja Boy will serve 240 days in jail for violating his probation, according to Los Angeles County court documents. Soulja , whose real name is DeAndre Cortez Way, appeared in court Tuesday. The judge gave him 40 days credit on the sentence for having been locked up the last 20 days. It wasn’t immediately known what he did to violate his probation. Way was convicted in 2014 for carrying a loaded weapon in a car in which he was a passenger and is barred from possessing guns or ammunition.
63-year-old man sentenced for murder at El Monte motel in 1978
A 63-year-old man who avoided arrest connected to a 1978 murder for more than four decades was sentenced on Monday. According to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Sarika Kim, Anthony Davis, 63, was sentenced to seven years to life in state prison for the Jan. 7, 1978 murder of Rudolfo Chavez, 42, who was found dead at the Spic and Span motel in El Monte. He was sentenced under guidelines that were in place at the time of the murder.
Man gets life in prison for killings a decade apart in East LA and Whittier
A man who was convicted of murdering his on-again, off-again girlfriend in East Los Angeles and a man in Whittier in crimes that occurred just over a decade apart was sentenced Friday to two consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole. Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler told Jose “Joe” Luis Saenz, that he was as “cold-blooded” a killer as he had ever come across in four decades on the bench and 10 years as a defense attorney.
Former CHP officer sentenced for off-duty Ventura shooting
A former CHP officer has been sentenced for an off-duty shooting in Ventura that left a neighbor seriously wounded. The judge Wednesday sentenced 50-year-old Trever Dalton of Ventura to a year in the Ventura County Jail and three years formal probation. The jail sentence is to begin March 7th. There are several conditions of probation including not to possess or have access to any weapon including but not limited to any firearm, pellet or BB gun, chemical weapon, a replica of any weapon, a conductive electrical device, or ammunition.
Ex-Guatemalan police chief found guilty of lying about murder conviction to obtain green card
A former Guatemalan police chief was found guilty of lying about his 1989 conviction for the murder of two student activists to get a U.S. green card. A jury in Los Angeles federal court took just three hours to return a verdict Friday. They found Catalino Esteban Valiente Alonzo guilty of knowingly lying to immigration officials to become a legal permanent resident, which would have been unlikely had he disclosed that he was convicted for the murder of the two activists by Guatemalan police and that he was a fugitive from the law.
Boeing pleads not guilty to misleading feds about 737 Max safety
Boeing pleaded not guilty to a federal conspiracy charge Thursday regarding flight control software for the 737 Max that resulted in two crashes that killed 346 people, throwing in doubt a $2.5 billion settlement it reached with the Trump administration in 2021. Chief safety officer Mike Delaney entered the plea on behalf of the Chicago-based aerospace manufacturer in Fort Worth, Texas, federal court.
Articles of Interest
Trump sues journalist Bob Woodward over book recordings
Former President Donald Trump assailed famed journalist Bob Woodward on Monday, alleging in a federal lawsuit that the reporter unfairly used interview recordings in an audiobook release. Trump filed the lawsuit against Woodward, his publisher Simon & Schuster Inc., and its parent company Paramount Global, in Pensacola federal court seeking nearly $50 million in damages for alleged copyright infringement.
Juul seeks $26 million in damages to deter Chinese ‘serial counterfeiter’
Juul Labs asked a federal judge to impose $26 million in statutory damages against a Chinese, alleged serial counterfeiter that has already been found liable for infringing the trademarks of the e-cigarette maker. Juul squared off Monday against Andy Chou and his Yiwu Cute Jewelry business, which operates an international platform to provide so-called drop shippers with merchandise from Chinese suppliers.
Bill to increase media and state official access to prisons introduced
A bill to increase both media and state official access to state prisons, county jails, and city jails was introduced to the Senate on Monday. Senate Bill 254, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) would specifically reverse prison and jail policies across the state, including those by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and would permit representatives of the news media to tour a facility or interview prisoners in person.
Murder charge filed in Wasco State Prison strangulation death
A charge of first-degree murder has been filed against a man accused of strangling his cellmate at Wasco State Prison, court records show. Eugene Harlan Stroud, 45, was charged Jan. 12 and is due in court Thursday for his formal arraignment. On March 15, Stroud’s cellmate, Scott James Gunter, 59, was found unresponsive and pronounced dead about 30 minutes later. Coroner’s officials earlier this month said Gunter had been strangled and his death was a homicide.
California bills call for CalPERS, CalSTRS to divest fossil fuels, company climate disclosure
California lawmakers introduced a package of bills in the state Senate that would require the state's public pension funds to divest from fossil fuels and force large companies operating in California to disclose more climate-related information. The climate accountability package is made up of three bills introduced Monday by three Democratic state senators in California, according to a tweet from Sen. Scott Wiener.
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