Courts & Rulings
Court: First Amendment protects warning drivers about police checkpoints
Police in Stamford, Connecticut violated the First Amendment when they arrested and jailed Michael Friend for holding a sign that read “Cops Ahead.” The First Amendment does not “permit the government to imprison any speaker so long as his speech is deemed valueless or unnecessary,” the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously declared late last month.
Court of Appeal rules plaintiff may recover PAGA penalties for violating sick pay statute
In the first ruling of its kind, the California Court of Appeal (4th Dist.) recently ruled that a plaintiff may pursue penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) for alleged violations of California’s sick pay statute, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. Wood v. Kaiser Found. Hosps., 2023 WL 2198664 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 24, 2023).
Ninth Circuit upholds $30,000 sanction against lawyers
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a sanction of nearly $30,000 imposed on two lawyers for the plaintiff in a lack-of-access disability discrimination lawsuit because their law firm delayed 19 days in providing a copy of an agreement entered into 13 years earlier settling a like suit brought by the same complainant against the same property owner and, after providing the agreement, doubling the settlement demand.
Forbes Media not entitled to information in sealed files
An effort by Forbes Media and its associate editor to gain more information about how the federal government uses its statutory power to force private businesses to perform secret investigations to help it nab criminals has hit a roadblock, with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals holding yesterday that neither the First Amendment nor the common law provides a right of access to the information being sought. Circuit Judge Daniel Aaron Bress authored the opinion.
California Court of Appeal upholds Proposition 22 as mostly constitutional
Three years ago, California voters approved Proposition 22, the “Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Act,” which allowed app-based rideshare and delivery companies to hire drivers as independent contractors if certain conditions were met. This week the California Court of Appeal mostly upheld the Proposition as constitutional. Proposition 22 went into effect in 2021 and was quickly challenged in California state court by various groups seeking a declaration that it violated California’s Constitution.
Prosecutor explains how progressive DAs have 'hijacked' our system of justice with a 'pro-criminal agenda’
A Los Angeles County prosecutor said Monday progressive DA's like George Gascon don't have any solutions beyond "a hope and a prayer" that criminals won't break the law. "Progressive District Attorneys like Los Angeles County DA George Gascon are under attack due to what many claim is a pro-criminal agenda that emboldens criminals, leaves residents unsafe and victims abandoned," Dr. Phil observed on his show.
Former L.A. County Deputy DA says man who attacked her was already on probation for assault
Former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Irene Lee claims she was attacked two years ago by the same man who assaulted Olympic volleyball medalist Kim Glass with a steel bolt in 2022. “He was on probation for attacking three separate women by the time he had attacked me, and he was given multiple chances to go to a mental health program, but it didn’t really have much consequence because he could walk off at any time,” says Lee.
DA George Gascón rejects request to dismantle Victim Impact Program
Today, with only a few hours’ notice, District Attorney George Gascón canceled a meeting that his staff had scheduled a week ago with the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the request by the ADDA to reconsider his decision to dissolve the Victim Impact Program (VIP). VIP is a division of specially trained attorneys who prosecute the most sensitive cases in the office, such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, elder abuse, child abuse, hate crimes, sex crimes, and stalking.
CHP took over an investigation of its own officer; the results were biased, prosecutor says
Cezannie Mount was walking home from the fast food restaurant where he worked in 2019 when his life was cut short. The 24-year-old had been celebrating after being named employee of the month at Raising Cane’s, where his family says he worked to support his dream of becoming a musician. Late that night, he stopped back at work for some food before Cane’s closed at 3:30 a.m.
Soft on crime, harsh on pronouns
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon suspended a deputy district attorney without pay for five days last month because prosecutor Shea Sanna was guilty of "misgendering" a sex offender. In Gascon World, the offense also can be called “dead-naming." Violent repeat offenders have seen more mercy from Gascon than career prosecutors who just want to do their jobs. Sanna's offense? He referred to repeat offender Hannah Tubbs, nee James Tubbs, as a male.
Progressive Los Angeles DA offering free shuttle service so staff can get to work safely
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office began a program this week to shuttle employees between their cars and workplaces in downtown Los Angeles amid a series of incidents in which some have been confronted by the public, officials said Thursday. On Monday, the DA’s office launched the Employee Secure Transport and Escort Program (E-STEP) in an effort to provide free secure transportation for employees assigned to the Civic Center area.
Parolee ordered to stand in attack on Olympian Kim Glass in downtown L.A.
A parolee was ordered Thursday to stand trial for an allegedly unprovoked attack last summer in downtown Los Angeles on an Olympic silver medal-winning volleyball player, who testified that she had never seen him before. Superior Court Judge David Fields rejected a defense motion to dismiss the case against Semeon Tesfamariam, 52, who is charged with a felony count of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly throwing a 10-inch metal bolt at Kimberly Glass' face, along with an allegation that he personally inflicted great bodily injury on her.
California care home charged in connection with Covid deaths
A Southern California residential care home company and three of its managers have been charged in connection with 14 Covid-related deaths at one of its facilities three years ago, prosecutors said Monday. The criminal complaint alleges Silverado Senior Living Management failed to follow appropriate safety procedures when admitting a new resident to its Beverly Place facility in Los Angeles in March 2020.
Former L.A. resident arrested on complaint alleging multimillion-dollar frauds targeting members of Orthodox Jewish community
A former resident of the Fairfax District of Los Angeles has been arrested on a criminal complaint alleging he defrauded investors, primarily members of the Orthodox Jewish community, by inducing them into investing millions of dollars in his security camera business and his purported real estate ventures in Israel, the Justice Department announced today. Yossi Engel, 35, who moved to Israel in March 2021 but temporarily returned to the Los Angeles area last month, is charged with one count of wire fraud.
U.S. Attorney’s Office charges 9 defendants with child exploitation offenses in ongoing program to prevent victimization of children
Federal authorities today announced a series of child sexual exploitation cases alleging the victimization of minors - sometimes by convicted sex offenders - and charging a range of crimes that include sex trafficking, enticing a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity and producing child pornography. United States Attorney Martin Estrada, FBI Assistant Director in Charge Donald Alway, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Acting Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang made the announcement.
Man wielding metal pipe charged with hate crime attacks in Santa Monica
A man was arrested Friday for allegedly assaulting victims in a hate crime-fueled attack in Santa Monica. The suspect was identified as Job Uriah Taylor by the Santa Monica Police Department. Officers responded to an attempted assault in the 1100 block of Santa Monica Beach around 7:30 a.m. The victim, who was walking his dog at the time, told police Taylor approached him and threatened to attack him with a metal pipe. He then yelled several racial slurs at the victim, who was a Black man, police said.
LA prosecutors decline to retry Harvey Weinstein on rape, sex assault charges
Los Angeles prosecutors told a judge Tuesday that they will not retry Harvey Weinstein, who was convicted of the rape and sexual assault of one woman, on counts involving two others that left jurors deadlocked. Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson announced the decision to Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench at a hearing in downtown Los Angeles. The judge granted a defense motion to dismiss the charges and said Weinstein would be returned to New York, where he was convicted in a similar case.
Probe reveals deep ties between Tom Girardi, state bar
Disgraced lawyer Tom Girardi, once among the most successful and powerful plaintiff's attorneys in the country, gave more than $1 million in gifts and payments to a state bar investigator and his wife, according to a corruption probe by the State Bar of California released Friday.
How safe are our streets
Stories of innocent citizens being brutally attacked by complete strangers who have long and violent criminal histories have become all too common. Many claim these attacks are a result of soft-on-crime policies enacted by “woke” and “progressive” district attorneys and other elected officials. They claim this pro-criminal agenda emboldens criminals and allows them to stay out of jail and prison while leaving residents unsafe and victims abandoned.
‘Serial filers’ - SF businesses still vulnerable to fraudulent ADA lawsuits
Business owners in San Francisco say they remain vulnerable to fraudulent ADA lawsuits which have targeted more than 35,000 businesses statewide. Last April, the San Francisco and Los Angeles District Attorneys sued San Diego law firm Potter Handy, LLC for filing allegedly fraudulent disability lawsuits with over 300 businessowners in SF and over 36,397 businessowners statewide since 2010. 
Los Angeles City/County
City Council approves $1 million for Office of Unarmed Response and Safety
The City Council unanimously approved $1 million Wednesday to fund and create the Office of Unarmed Response and Safety, which council members said is necessary to expand the 9-8-8 suicide and crisis hotline to include an unarmed crisis response. According to a motion by Council members Bob Blumenfield, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Eunisses Hernandez, the new office will require at least three staff members to solely focus on the expansion of the city’s Crisis and Incident Response Community-Led Engagement program and unarmed crisis response teams.
LAPD shuts down Follow-Home Robbery Task Force after arrests drop (Video)
The LAPD is shutting down a special task force assigned to catch the people behind last year’s series of violent follow-home robberies. Eric Leonard reports March 16, 2023.
Inside the financial ties between a controversial housing nonprofit and Kevin de León
In summer 2020, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation was ramping up its fight with the city of Los Angeles over housing homeless people. Under Michael Weinstein's leadership, the powerful nonprofit was pursuing a lawsuit alleging the city illegally denied funding for an affordable housing project that the foundation was proposing. Its staff sent email after email to code enforcement and housing officials pressing them to sign off on repairs at the organization's residential hotels on skid row.
NewsConference: Challenging George Gascón (Video)
NBC4’s Conan Nolan talks with Deputy District Attorney John McKinney who this week announced his candidacy to unseat George Gascón as LA County DA. McKinney was a major crimes prosecutor before he got reassigned.
Public Safety Commission tables recommendation to hire consultant for study on a WeHo police force
On Monday, March 13, 2023, the Public Safety Commission of West Hollywood held a special study session and community listening discussion about the City’s RFP process to select the consultant to review the current contract for law enforcement and feasibility study regarding creating a city’s own West Hollywood Municipal Police force.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore discusses police topics this week (Video)
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore joins KCAL News to discuss current topics including President Biden's recent executive order on gun control; homelessness in the city and around schools; and the proposed use of Boston Dynamic's "robot dog" for the force.
NYPD cops resigning from force in 2023 at record pace - with a 117% jump from 2021 numbers
It’s ’23 skidoo. New York City cops are resigning at a record-breaking pace this year as the NYPD’s alarming exodus continues, according to new data obtained by The Post. “The NYPD staffing emergency is approaching the point of no return,” said Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch. The shocking stats show 239 officers tapped out in January and February, a 36% spike from the 176 who fled in the same period last year and a disturbing 117% jump from the 110 in 2021, NYPD pension data show.
LAPD police chief going to baseball spring training in Ariz. to recruit officers
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore is headed to baseball’s spring training in Arizona, but not necessarily to catch any games. With the department nearly 300 sworn officers short of its staffing level, Moore was invited by the Los Angeles Dodgers to head to their Glendale training facility to talk to qualified candidates within the organization about the possibility of working for the department after baseball.
Cotton introduces bill to allow death penalty for cop-killers
Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced the Defending Our Defenders Act today, legislation that would make the murder of a state or local law enforcement officer a federal crime punishable by life in prison or the death penalty. Congressman Mike Garcia (CA-27) is introducing companion legislation in the House. Bill text may be found here.
Eric Garcetti’s passage to India sails through a Senate vote
On July 9, 2021, President Joe Biden nominated then-Mayor Eric Garcetti to be the U.S. Ambassador to India. Today, after two years of bruising political battles arising from sexual harassment charges against one of Garcetti’s top aides, the United States Senate voted to move forward with his appointment. In a “motion to invoke closure” the Senate voted 52-42 to approve sending Garcetti to New Delhi. The final step in his confirmation process is expected to be formalized later today.
L.A. riders bail on Metro trains amid ‘horror’ of deadly drug overdoses, crime
Matthew Morales boarded the Metro Red Line at MacArthur Park as classical music blared over the station loudspeakers. It was rush hour on a Tuesday afternoon, and Morales made his way to a back corner seat and unfolded a tiny piece of foil with several blue shards of fentanyl. As the train started west, he heated the aluminum with a lighter and sucked in the smoke through a pipe fashioned from a ballpoint pen.
Mexican Mafia members run profitable illegal Los Angeles casinos from behind bars: 'Hidden in plain sight’
Illegal casinos in Los Angeles are cropping up everywhere from warehouses to homes and are largely benefiting incarcerated members of a prison gang called the Mexican Mafia, authorities say. Richard Velasquez, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s detective, told the Los Angeles Times that casitas, Spanish for "little house," are "everywhere, to be honest with you." "It’s hidden in plain sight. You don’t know that it’s there till you know that it’s there," he said. 
Amazon consumers fight back against company’s bid to dismiss lithium-ion battery suit
Amazon consumers filed a motion to contest Amazon’s claim that their class action lawsuit over lithium-ion battery defects should be limited to one specific type of battery. The consumers instead argue the court should reject Amazon’s “erroneous positions” on limiting the case and move forward with jurisdictional discovery.
Have a DJI drone? Beware of this serious security flaw
Drones are complex devices and need to have their firmware updated often. Sometimes this adds more features. On other occasions, it’s desperately needed to plug security flaws. DJI is undoubtedly one of the most popular drone manufacturers, with people globally taking to the skies with a Mavic, Phantom or Air. With powerful cameras and sophisticated mechanics, many drones are high-powered gadgets used for commercial photography.
Felon convicted for 2016 escape from OC Jail
The man prosecutors call the mastermind of a 2016 escape by three inmates from the Orange County jail in Santa Ana was convicted Thursday of felony counts of escaping custody and car theft. Jurors, however, acquitted Hossein Nayeri, 44, of kidnapping during a carjacking and other lesser-included offenses of simple kidnapping, carjacking and false imprisonment. Sentencing was scheduled for March 24.
Articles of Interest
Three police officers shot in Los Angeles and it doesn't make the front page of the L.A. Times (but look at what does)
Newspapers, the ones that used to appear in your driveway every morning, the ones you could pick up and turn the pages and read without the aid of an electronic device, those relics of a bygone age, they may be dying, but the print edition of any paper is still a reliable barometer of its editors’ priorities. The front page is the most prized real estate, with reporters vying to have their stories appear in that coveted space on A-1.
‘Access Hollywood’ tape, multiple Trump accusers, will feature in civil rape trial
Three women are expected to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault at a civil trial starting next month, following a ruling Friday that also allowed into evidence the notorious “Access Hollywood” tape that surfaced during Trump’s first presidential campaign. U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan denied Trump’s bid to exclude the 2005 tape of a hot-mic conversation between Trump, who then was hosting “The Apprentice” reality TV show, and “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush.
At center of Fox News lawsuit, Sidney Powell and a ‘wackadoodle’ email
A day after major news organizations declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential race, a Sunday-morning guest on Fox News was holding forth on exotic and baseless claims of election fraud - allegedly deceased voters, ballots supposedly lacking an option to vote for Donald Trump, an “affidavit” from a postal worker claiming to have postdated mail-in ballots - when host Maria Bartiromo pressed for more details.
DoNotPay doesn’t live up to its billing as a 'robot lawyer,' offers 'substandard' legal docs, suit claims
A would-be class action lawsuit alleges that the DoNotPay website is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and is harming its customers by providing legal services that are “substandard and poorly done.” The March 3 suit alleges that DoNotPay violated California’s unfair competition law by holding itself out as a lawyer to California residents and by selling legal services there without a law license.
Orthodox Jewish parents claim California discriminates against their disabled children
A group of orthodox Jewish parents of disabled children sued California for religious discrimination because the state won't pay for special education programs and resources at private religious schools. Six parents and two Jewish schools, backed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, filed a complaint Monday in Los Angeles federal court claiming the state discriminates against religious children with disabilities and against religious schools.
Communication choices played a major role in sinking Silicon Valley Bank
A lot of businesspeople ridicule communication as a low priority, nice-to-have soft skill. It’s likely these same people missed how large a role communication played in the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). Indeed, Lulu Cheng Meservey, EVP, corporate affairs and CCO, Activision Blizzard, believes the driving force in SVB’s demise was its communication “collapse.” In analyzing PR crises, critics often cite a lack of transparent communication. For some observers, like Cheng Meservey, that was so with SVB.
Bill seeks increased media access to prisons and incarcerated interviewees
In 1994, then-California Governor Pete Wilson signed a bill giving the state prison system more authority to block journalists from entering prisons to report on conditions inside. By 1996, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) had pulled up the drawbridge, instituting what were considered some of the most restrictive policies in the nation. Between 1998 and 2012, state lawmakers tried and failed to reverse the CDCR’s limits on media access nine times.
Pleasant Valley State Prison officials investigating death of an incarcerated person as a homicide
Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) officials are investigating the death of Richard Derderian as a homicide. At 10:43 a.m. on Friday, March 10, 2023, an officer found Derderian lying unresponsive in a recreation yard with what appeared to be injuries. An inmate-manufactured weapon was recovered at the scene. Staff quickly initiated life-saving measures and summoned emergency services to transport him to an on-site medial facility for treatment, where he was pronounced deceased at 11:13 a.m.
4 Silicon Valley Bank collapse takeaways for public school pension funds
Teacher and school employee pension funds in multiple states could lose millions of dollars with the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank over the weekend. “In some respects, pension funds are exposed to the contagion effects of a bank run just like any other investor,” said Anthony Randazzo, who is closely following the issue and is the executive director of Equable Institute, a bipartisan nonprofit that provides public pension education and research.
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