Courts, Rulings & Lawsuits

Ninth Circuit revives action over Nirvana’s album cover

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ordered reinstatement of a man’s 2021 lawsuit based on the use of a photograph of him on the cover of the band Nirvana’s 1991 album “Nevermind” taken when he was four-months old, depicted unclothed in a swimming pool, with the panel holding that the action is not time-barred in light of republications of the image.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Las Vegas newspaper can’t shake police union suit over under cover videos

A Nevada judge has ruled that a police union lawsuit over the Las Vegas Review-Journal's refusal to remove or obscure a video of correction officers violating policy while on duty can go ahead. “The ball is in their court now,” William Schuller, attorney for the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, told Courthouse News on Friday. The police union claims the newspaper's publication of the video violates a state law prohibiting the public release of photos of police officers.

Courthouse News Service

California AG will appeal injunction on conceal-carry limits

A federal judge in Orange County has preliminarily blocked California from enforcing key provisions of Senate Bill 2, a new law that places strict limits on where concealed-carry permit holders can take handguns. Hours after the decision, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced an appeal. “If allowed to stand, this decision would endanger communities by allowing guns in places where families and children gather,” Bonta said in a statement.

Courthouse News Service

Appeals court pauses Apple Watch import ban

The Federal Circuit on Wednesday suspended an import ban on some Apple smartwatches while the company continues to fight a patent dispute. The tech giant had been banned from selling and importing the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 over a patent dispute with Masimo, which makes medical devices. The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Apple’s new watches infringed Masimo’s patents and implemented a sales ban that went into effect this week. Wednesday’s order bars the federal government from enforcing the ban “until further notice while the court considers the motion for a stay pending appeal.”

Courthouse News Service

Drug-sniffing dog searches fall under Fourth Amendment protections, NY appellate court rules

Law enforcement’s use of drug-sniffing dogs on individuals now qualifies as a search under the Fourth Amendment, according to a Tuesday ruling from New York’s high court. It’s been an issue long unresolved by the United States Supreme Court, which has taken an “incremental” approach to the issue for the past four decades, according to Associate Judge Anthony Cannataro.

Courthouse News Service

Appeals court tosses convictions of former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry

A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out the 2022 conviction of former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., ruling that federal prosecutors brought the charges in the wrong location. The opinion from a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said that prosecutors would be able to retry Fortenberry “if at all, in a proper venue.” Fortenberry resigned from Congress shortly after a federal jury in the Central District of California convicted him on one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators.

Roll Call

Federal judge blocks new California gun control law from taking effect in January 2024

A new California law that would restrict licensed gun holders from carrying their firearms in many public places will not go into full effect on Jan. 1 as scheduled, after a federal judge deemed it unconstitutional. The law, Senate Bill 2, was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Sept. 26 and included an array of gun control measures. On Dec. 20, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney issued an order to stop one of SB 2’s regulations, the ban on licensed gun carrying in a public place.

Fox40 Sacramento

Attorney General Bonta urges U.S. Supreme Court to uphold federal bump stock ban

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, as part of a coalition of 22 attorneys general, filed a brief today in the United States Supreme Court in support of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) federal regulation that bans bump-stock devices and classifies them as prohibited machine guns under the National Firearms Act. In the case of Garland v. Cargill, the district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit panel agreed with ATF that a federal statute prohibiting machine-guns fairly encompasses bump stocks, but the en banc court reversed.

State of California Department of Justice Press Release

Trump wins Michigan state court battle to qualify for primary election ballot

Donald Trump scored a victory on Wednesday in his fight against challenges to his eligibility to run for the White House again when Michigan's top court declined to hear a case seeking to disqualify him from the state's presidential primary ballot. The Michigan Supreme Court said it would not hear an appeal from four voters in the state seeking to bar the former president from the Feb. 27 Republican primary for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.



Reputed Mexican Mafia boss, serving life in prison, charged in beating over lost gun

Gabriel “Sleepy” Huerta has been identified by testifying witnesses and confidential informants as an influential member of the Mexican Mafia, the prison-based organization that controls Latino gangs behind bars and on the streets of Southern California. But in a case brought this month, prosecutors accused Huerta of getting involved in a mundane squabble: A lost gun that led to a beat-down on the streets of his old neighborhood.

Los Angeles Times

California man charged with threatening to ‘unabomb’ FBI field office

A California man was charged with planning to bomb the FBI Los Angeles field office, according to federal prosecutors. Mark Anten, of Sun Valley, California, started in July allegedly sending threatening emails to the field office, referred to himself as the “Unabomber” and continued to send threatening messages through December - even visiting the office to “scope” it out, prosecutors said.

ABC News

Lancaster man charged with murder after woman's body found in trunk of burnt out car

A Lancaster man has been charged with murder and arson after investigators learned of his alleged connection to the death of a woman who was found in the trunk of a burnt out car at his Quartz Hill home last week. Matthew Switalski, 37, had his arraignment rescheduled for Jan. 18 after he was charged with one count of murder and one count of arson of an inhabited structure or property, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

CBS Los Angeles

Costco shooting closing arguments: Prosecutor says ex-LAPD officer created false narrative

Attorneys began presenting closing arguments on Tuesday in the trial of a former police officer suspected of fatally shooting a developmentally disabled man and critically wounding the victim’s parents in the Corona Costco. Salvador Alejandro Sanchez, 33, of Corona, is charged with voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm. He additionally faces sentence-enhancing allegations of using a firearm and causing great bodily injury.

Desert Sun

District Attorney Gascón announces exonerations of two men wrongfully convicted of murder in two separate cases

In a news conference, District Attorney George Gascón gathered with family members and advocates at the Hall of Justice to announce the exonerations of Giovanni Hernandez and Miguel Solorio, each who collectively spent decades in prison for murders they did not commit as teenagers. “It’s truly devastating when people are wrongfully convicted, especially when they were so young at the time of their arrest. In the case of Mr. Solorio, he was 19 years old. Mr. Hernandez was just 14 years old,” District Attorney Gascón said.

Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office

Christmas burglary suspect attacked police dog, prosecutors allege

Criminal charges were filed Wednesday against a burglary suspect who allegedly attacked and injured a Pasadena police dog on Christmas Day. Jose Manuel Soto, 45, is charged with one count each of assaulting a police animal causing a serious injury, second-degree commercial burglary and vandalism with $400 or more in damage or destruction of property, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

City News Service

Prosecutors seek 13-year prison sentence for former L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar

Federal prosecutors are seeking a 13-year prison sentence for former Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar for his role in an expansive bribery scheme, according to court documents filed Thursday. After a years-long federal investigation, Huizar pleaded guilty in January to charges of racketeering and tax evasion, admitting that he extorted at least $1.5 million from real estate developers. Huizar is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 26 by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter.

Los Angeles Times

D.A. reviewing cases against 2 L.A. County Probation Department employees accused of sex abuse

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is reviewing cases against two Probation Department employees accused of sexually abusing minors in their custody, the first sign of possible criminal ramifications for current and recently employed staff named in the deluge of sex abuse lawsuits against the county. On Dec. 21, the Probation Department presented the district attorney’s office with cases against two staff members - Thomas Jackson and Altovise Abner - to consider for prosecution, according to a spokesperson for the office.

Los Angeles Times

DA's Race

ADDA endorses Eric Siddall for Los Angeles District Attorney

The Board of Directors of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (“ADDA”) has adopted the recommendation of its Endorsement Committee to endorse Eric Siddall to be the next District Attorney of Los Angeles County. This endorsement is the product of an exhaustive, months-long, fact-based analysis of District Attorney candidates by the ADDA’s Endorsement Committee, a process outlined in the Association’s Endorsement Protocol.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Mitchell blasts Gascón’s appointment of Blacknell

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell, a candidate for Los Angeles County district attorney, has released a statement excoriating incumbent George Gascón over his appointment of Tiffany Blacknell as his chief of staff. Blacknell was a deputy public defender recruited by Gascón in 2020 to join his staff. She has been serving as a special advisor and chief of communications. She will assume her new role on Jan. 16.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

In L.A. District Attorney race, rhetoric shifts from reform to fear

Three years ago, George Gascón rode a wave of collective outrage following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis to become district attorney of Los Angeles by promising to make the criminal justice system fairer and, most crucially, to rein in the police. Now, to win re-election and stay in office, Mr. Gascón will need to tap into a different type of emotion: fear - in particular a perception that Los Angeles is less safe and that his policies as district attorney have made it so, an argument advanced by many of his challengers but largely unsupported by data.

New York Times

Jon Hatami to Newsmax: LA DA Is violent criminal’s ‘best friend’

In an interview on Newsmax’s “Rob Schmitt Tonight,” Democrat candidate Jon Hatami, a child abuse survivor and Deputy District Attorney in L.A. County, said incumbent George Gascon has allowed crime to skyrocket in Los Angeles. “George Gascon is the best friend of violent criminals. He has befriended violent criminals. He’s allowed them to be released numerous times,” Hatami asserted. “He doesn’t prosecute individuals with firearms, and he’s repeatedly told everyone that ‘crime isn’t real, it’s just a feeling.'”

WVLK Newstalk

Calif. may learn yet, not getting tough on crime doesn't pay

In 2020, after Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon won office with nearly 54% of the vote, advocates for so-called reforms in the criminal justice system could exhale. When he runs for reelection in 2024, however, Gascon's sweet ride may come to an abrupt halt. During his tenure, Angelenos have become more concerned about crime, not less. Incarceration is not the dirty word it once was. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, violent crime in California rose by 5.7% between 2021 and 2022.



After years-long fight, ex-sheriff agrees to comply with subpoenas, testify on deputy gangs

After years of resisting subpoenas to testify under oath about deputy gangs, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has reversed course and agreed to appear in front of the Civilian Oversight Commission. His lawyer notified the commission of the decision in a December letter stating that Villanueva “is very willing to testify” in January and that he will “answer any question you have under oath.” The change of heart comes days after a county judge scheduled a hearing to decide whether to order the former sheriff, who is running for county supervisor against incumbent Janice Hahn, to comply with the commission’s subpoenas.

Los Angeles Times

In Depth: CARE Court

In segment one, LACDMH Director Lisa Wong and the Honorable Samantha P. Jessner of the California Superior Court join Hal to talk about Los Angeles County’s CARE Court. That stands for Community Assistance Recovery and Empowerment. CARE court started in LA County at the beginning of December and is intended to assist individuals with serious mental illnesses get support and assistance. They discuss the requirements that must be met for referrals, what happens after that, and how this is intended to treat mental illness with dignity.

Fox11 Los Angeles

Humboldt County cannabis abatement lawsuit moves forward in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals with a reply brief from the Institute of Justice

This week the Institute of Justice (IJ) responded to the County’s statement in the federal class action lawsuit against Humboldt County’s cannabis abatement program now that the suit is in the court of appeals. IJ represents those who claim they were victimized by the County Abatement program. The appeals process calls for three filings, the third of which was just filed. This most recent filing is the Reply to the County’s Response to IJ’s initial brief on the appeal.

Redheaded Blackbelt

The Harvard Crimson refuses to publish my letter critical of president Claudine Gay

The Harvard Crimson has refused to publish a letter I wrote critical of president Claudine Gay’s testimony in Congress. The paper published an article Dec. 12 by law Professor Charles Fried providing a legalistic defense of her claim that those who call for genocide against Jews cannot be disciplined without considering “the context.” The problem with Charles Fried’s defense of President Gay’s “Context matters” statement is he fails to acknowledge that for Gay, context apparently matters only for genocidal threats against Jews.

New York Post

Assembly committee on retail theft calls for more data, reforms during its first hearing

The recently formed California State Assembly Select Committee on Retail Theft held its first hearing this week, with lawmakers getting a broad overview of the issue from stakeholders in the retail industry as well as criminal justice reform advocates and real estate and law enforcement officials. Reforms created by Proposition 47, a need for basic consequences, including diversion programs, and better data were the focus of Tuesday’s analysis, along with cracking down on online retailers that sell stolen goods.

Local News Matters

Biden commutes sentences and pardons marijuana offenses in sweeping criminal justice reform

In what the White House called a decisive move echoing the core tenet of equal justice under law, President Joe Biden announced a set of substantial clemency actions aimed at addressing glaring disparities within the U.S. criminal justice system. The president, underscoring bipartisan consensus on the need for a fair and unbiased legal framework, declared a series of important measures toward realizing the promise of equal justice in American communities.

San Diego Voice & Viewpoint

Prosecutors oppose Sen. Bob Menendez's effort to delay May bribery trial until July

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday urged a judge to reject U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s request to delay his bribery trial scheduled for next spring by two months, until July. Prosecutors argued against the postponement a week after defense lawyers offered multiple reasons why they say a trial of the Democrat and codefendants, including his wife, should be delayed.

Press Democrat

Los Angeles County/City

LA County deputies shoot at armed suspect in Lynwood

A deputy shooting in Lynwood turned into an hours-long standoff after an apparent barricade situation inside a nearby event center. It happened near the intersection of South Alameda Street and East 110th Street. No Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies were injured in the shooting. The suspect is in an unknown condition.


Christmas Day Metrolink death leaves 51 passengers stranded for hours

A Metrolink train fatally struck a pedestrian in L.A. County on Christmas Day, leaving 51 passengers delayed till evening. The crash occurred at 3:21 p.m. on Monday in Covina at the crossing on Sunflower Avenue and Covina Boulevard. The train originated in L.A. and was headed to San Bernardino.

Los Angeles Magazine

L.A. eviction cases rose significantly this year. But it’s not all bad news for renters

Eviction cases across Los Angeles County increased by thousands in 2023 after the expiration of pandemic-era moratoriums early in the year. There were about 43,000 eviction filings through November, putting the county on track to end the year with more than 46,000, according to court data compiled by Kyle Nelson, senior policy and research analyst for the nonprofit advocacy group Strategic Actions for a Just Economy.

Los Angeles Times

Woman sues LA, says her husband sent nude photos of her to co-workers. He's a cop. So is she

One year after a Los Angeles police officer was charged with six misdemeanor counts for allegedly sending sexually explicit photos and videos of his wife to LAPD colleagues and other men, the woman, also a police officer, is suing the city of Los Angeles. The woman's lawsuit, filed Wednesday, charges the department with sexual harassment, whistleblower retaliation and failure to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment and retaliation. She seeks unspecified damages.

Los Angeles Times


Hesperia deputy arrested; drug paraphernalia found at his home during search warrant

A San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy, identified as Jonathan Campos, 32 of Hesperia, has been taken into custody following an investigation that revealed he was under the influence of a narcotic controlled substance while armed. The incident took place at the intersection of Elina Rose Ct. and Berlina Rd. in Hesperia on December 17, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.

Victor Valley News Group

Newsom pans efforts to block Trump from California ballot

Gov. Gavin Newsom has a message for California politicians eager to follow Colorado’s lead to block former President Donald Trump from the ballot: Cool your jets. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled this week that Trump was ineligible to run for president because he fomented the Jan. 6 insurrection. The decision breathed life into efforts across the country, including in California, to disqualify the former president for violating the 14th Amendment.


'Severe revenue decline': California faces a record $68 billion deficit - here's what is eating away at the Golden State's coffers

California is facing a record $68 billion budget deficit. This is largely attributed to a “severe revenue decline,” according to the state's Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO). While it’s not the largest deficit the state has ever faced as a percentage of overall spending, it’s the largest in terms of real dollars - and could have a big impact on California taxpayers in the coming years.


Jury clears 3 officers in death of Manuel Ellis, Black man who said he couldn’t breathe

A jury cleared three Washington state police officers of all criminal charges Thursday in the 2020 death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who was shocked, beaten and restrained face-down on a Tacoma sidewalk as he pleaded for breath. Two of the officers - Matthew Collins, 40, and Christopher Burbank, 38 - had been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, while Timothy Rankine, 34, was charged with manslaughter.


Colorado, FBI investigate 'incidents’ directed at justices in Trump ballot ruling

Police said Tuesday they are investigating incidents directed at Colorado Supreme Court justices and providing extra patrols around their homes in Denver following the court's decision to remove former President Donald Trump from the state's presidential primary ballot. The Denver Police Department declined in an email to provide details about its investigations, citing safety and privacy considerations and because they are ongoing.



Beware of fakes this Christmas! Counterfeit economy now worth $2.3 TRILLION as experts warn shoppers not to get stung by dupes - so, can YOU tell the difference between a fake and the real deal?

The global counterfeit goods economy has swollen to an estimated $2.3 trillion worldwide, according to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC). And experts warn the problem is becoming increasingly dangerous as even electricals and cosmetics are being duped - putting buyers at risk. The NCPC estimates fake goods cause around 70 deaths and 350,000 serious injuries each year in the US.

Daily Mail


San Bernardino among most dangerous cities in U.S., study finds

While violent crime has dropped to pre-pandemic levels nationwide, the FBI announced, changes weren’t the same across the board. The crime rates remained elevated in dozens of cities around the country. Personal finance site MoneyGeek used the FBI crime data to look at crime rates in 302 large cities and 1,010 small cities and towns around the country. They looked at both violent crime and property crime, and used research by the University of Miami and the University of Colorado Denver to determine the cost of crime in each area.


What recent California crime trends say about what to expect in 2024

In 2023, crime made headlines, fueled Facebook fights - and was an important story for residents and business owners all over Southern California. Reported violent crime in the state is at its highest since roughly 2008, and California consistently outpaces national trends as violent crime has increased since 2020 while nationally it has started to decline, according to federal data.

Los Angeles Daily News

40 burglaries, $200,000 worth of booze and pills, four L.A. County men arrested

Riverside County deputies have arrested four Los Angeles County men suspected of stealing more than $200,000 worth of prescription medication and high-end alcohol as part of an organized theft ring. Deputies launched their investigation July 23, following a reported overnight burglary at a Temecula pharmacy in the 39000 block of Winchester Road. The business was hit again Sept. 17, authorities said.

Los Angeles Times

‘Ribbon of Light’ on LA’s 6th Street bridge dimmed by electrical copper wire thieves

The 6th Street Viaduct, spanning Los Angeles’ historic Boyle Heights on the east and the downtown Arts District on the west, is not just another bridge. The structure, which opened in July 2022 as a replacement for the span that was built in 1932, won a national award in 2023 as the year’s most outstanding engineering achievement. It features 10 pairs of sculptural 30-and 60-foot concrete arches that can be illuminated with multiple colors.

Press-Enterprise & Los Angeles Daily News


Former prison officer convicted in retrial of covering up 2016 Sacramento inmate killing

Former California prison officer Brenda Villa was found guilty Wednesday of falsifying records to cover up the killing of an incarcerated person at the California State Prison in Sacramento in 2016. The 32-year-old North Highlands resident was convicted in a retrial after a previous jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict. U.S. Attorney's officials said Villa was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit falsification of records in a federal investigation and three counts of falsifying records.

ABC10 News

Girlfriend of drug kingpin sentenced to over 3 years in prison for money laundering, officials say

A delivery of drugs in a Sony PlayStation box led agents to a location in Novi where a drug organization stored more than 30 kilograms of fentanyl and over half a million dollars, the United States Attorney's Office announced Wednesday. The girlfriend of the organization's California-based leader, who laundered drug money and lived a lavish life from the proceeds, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison, officials said.

CBS Detroit


Former L.A. County sheriff’s deputy, sentenced to death for murder, dies in prison

A former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy convicted and sentenced to death for murder died in custody Thursday, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Stephen M. Redd was pronounced dead after prison staff found him unresponsive in his cell at San Quentin Rehabilitation Center, where he’s been incarcerated since 1997. He was 78.

Los Angeles Times

California prison guards are dying too young. How Norway can help

Inside Halden Fengsel, a high-security prison in Norway, inmates choose their own clothing. Knockoff track suits from designer brands such as Karl Lagerfeld are favored. But what surprised California corrections officer Steve "Bull" Durham most on a recent visit to Halden wasn't the prisoners but the guards - how relaxed and happy his Norwegian counterparts were, and how casually they interacted with the inmates.

DPA International

Articles of Interest

National Hockey League, teams lose bid to renew fight against insurer over coverage

The National Hockey League and 19 of its teams, including the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks, have lost their bid in the Sixth District Court of Appeal for a writ directing restoration of key allegations stripped from their complaint against their insurer over disclaimed coverage for the more than $1 billion in losses caused by closure of their outdoor arenas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Court won’t hear Trump immunity dispute now

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request from Special Counsel Jack Smith to decide, without waiting for a federal appeals court to weigh in, whether former President Donald Trump can be tried on criminal charges that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Smith had asked the justices to act quickly to resolve the dispute over Trump’s immunity during the 2023-24 term, but the justices turned him down, in a brief unsigned order issued on Friday afternoon.


Danny Masterson transferred to state prison, mugshot released after rape conviction

Actor Danny Masterson has been transferred to a state prison months after being convicted of raping two women. His mugshot, which showed him dressed in an orange jumpsuit, was also released, reports People magazine. A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation representative shared that the actor, 47, was admitted to the North Kern State Prison on Wednesday and is “going through the classification and reception process”.


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