Courts & Rulings
Ninth Circuit panel is split on duty to return unlicensed driver’s impounded vehicle
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held yesterday, in a 2-1 decision, that three members of the California Highway Patrol were improperly granted qualified immunity in a suit over their refusal to release an impounded automobile to an unlicensed driver except on condition that her attorney agree in writing to make sure the client did not drive until she became licensed.
Court rejects immunity for police who held 83-year-old grandmother at gunpoint
An 83-year-old woman who was held at gunpoint and handcuffed after her car was wrongly reported as stolen can sue the officers responsible, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month. Back in July 2019, Elise Brown called police that one of her two cars, a cream-colored Oldsmobile, had been stolen. But while she was driving her other car, a dark blue Oldsmobile, an automated license plate reader scanned her license plate and incorrectly identified that car as stolen.
Supreme Court OK’s qualified immunity for cops who arrested man for making fun of police on Facebook
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed a police department in Ohio to claim qualified immunity after officers falsely arrested and prosecuted a man for making fun of law enforcement on Facebook. “I’m disappointed the Supreme Court won’t consider my case both because I won’t be able to hold the officers accountable for their violation of my rights, but also because I worry about what will happen to others who poke fun at the powerful,” Anthony Novak said in a statement his attorneys provided to Law&Crime.
Learning of parole-search condition did not justify search where detention was unlawful
The California Supreme Court yesterday, in a unanimous opinion, held that where a police officer unlawfully detained a man who was simply sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car, a search of the vehicle was not rendered justified upon ascertaining that the man was a parolee subject to warrantless searches. A bright-line rule was not set forth, with the court confining itself to the circumstances of the particular case.
Appeals court revives lawsuit over Palos Verdes Estates surf gang Lunada Bay Boys
A California appeals court on Tuesday revived a 2016 lawsuit filed by two Los Angeles surfers against the city of Palos Verdes Estates over the municipal beach Lunada Bay and their tangles with the Lunada Bay Boys, which Newsweek once called "America's most notorious surf gang.” The plaintiffs had, Second Appellate District Presiding Justice Laurence Rubin wrote for the panel, "sufficiently alleged an actionable conspiracy in which the city has participated" and overruled the trial court which had dismissed the city from the suit.
Livestreaming police is protected, says 4th Circuit, but with limits shielding cops
A U.S. appeals court established for the first time that livestreaming police encounters is free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution, but the court also made clear that law enforcement interests can easily overcome that right in some circumstances. Dijon Sharpe sued after a Winterville, North Carolina, cop tried unsuccessfully to snatch away his phone during a traffic stop because he was livestreaming the interaction.
U.S. Supreme Court to decide social media and E-commerce liability
The Supreme Court will soon decide on the protections Big Tech has enjoyed for years - and the internet may never be the same. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, passed by Congress when internet platforms were just beginning, limits the liability online platforms can be sued for wrongful conduct. While brick-and-mortar stores, newspapers, and broadcasters can be sued for defamation, product liability and other wrongful conduct, social media and e-commerce sites have exploited the protections of Section 230.
Alleged assault of fired employee does not come under workers’ compensation
An employee who had just been fired and was set upon by three of his former co-workers, acting at the direction of the company’s president, because he was carrying off an office laptop, is not barred by the exclusive-remedy provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act from suing the alleged assailants for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the Court of Appeal for this district has held. Div. Eight on Thursday reversed a judgment of dismissal as to those causes of action.
Judge dismisses historic S.F. police prosecution - but with a postdate
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins on Wednesday moved to dismiss the historic manslaughter prosecution of a San Francisco police officer. Fired officer Christopher Samayoa, believed to have been the first city officer charged with an on-duty killing, now must wait to see if the state Attorney General’s Office decides to take up the prosecution. Samayoa was just days out of the police academy when he shot a fleeing, unarmed Keita O’Neil on Dec. 1, 2017.
Los Angeles DA violates own policy in Catholic bishop murder case: 'Doesn't know the basic ethical rules’
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon apparently violated his own office’s policy while announcing murder charges Wednesday against a Torrance, California, man accused of killing a Roman Catholic bishop days earlier - in an ethical blunder that critics say could damage the integrity of the case. During his press appearance on Ash Wednesday, answering a reporter’s question in Spanish, he said investigators had ample evidence against the suspect - including a confession.
George Gascón: When ethics are an afterthought
On February 22, 2023, George Gascón violated the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Legal Policy Manual when discussing the case of the man arrested for the murder of Bishop David O’Connell. Office policy states that “[I]nformation shall not be released” to the media and public, which includes “Information regarding a confession, admission or statement” made by the defendant. Despite the policy prohibition, Gascón discussed the alleged confession made by the defendant.
Trans child molester Hannah Tubbs crafted new female identity in jailhouse call with dad, sources say
Hannah Tubbs, formerly known as James Tubbs, discussed a shift in gender identity as part of a jailhouse phone call regarding the defense lawyer's strategy on how the convicted child molester was being "housed" prior to a guilty plea in Los Angeles, according to law enforcement sources with knowledge of the call. Tubbs is also an accused murderer who allegedly began identifying as female only after being arrested in a cold case child sex assault investigation, in order to get placed with juvenile girls while awaiting trial.
CHP officer charged with assaulting female driver during Santa Clarita traffic stop
A California Highway Patrol officer has been charged with assault after allegedly hitting a woman in the face during a traffic stop in the Santa Clarita area last year, officials announced Tuesday. Officer Todd Cookston, 54, faces one felony count of assault under the color of authority, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The incident occurred on March 2, 2022, when Cookston pulled over a 21-year-old woman on the 5 Freeway.
Man accused in West LA hate shootings was subject of law enforcement alert
An internal law enforcement threat notification was circulated in late 2022 about the man now facing federal hate crime charges for shooting two men near a synagogue in West Los Angeles, and at least two police agencies outside California stopped, but did not arrest, the man prior to the shootings. Jaime Tran, 28, is accused in a federal court complaint of violating U.S. hate crime laws for the attacks on February 15 and 16, in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Tran confessed to specifically targeting men he believed were Jewish.
LA federal prosecutors deny Yasiel Puig’s claim of government bias
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have hit back at ex-Dodger Yasiel Puig’s allegation that he was targeted in an illegal sports betting case because of his skin color, according to court papers obtained Thursday. In a filing Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote that Puig’s “assertion of race-based selective prosecution bespeaks its hollowness.”
Hollywood modeling agency pressured clients into prostitution and porn, prosecutors say
Three people in California, who allegedly operated a prostitution ring out of a Los Angeles modeling agency, were hit with a grand jury indictment, according to California Attorney General Rob Bonta. The three defendants - Karine Michmichian, Dwight Cunningham and Derek Hay - allegedly operated a prostitution and sexual exploitation scheme through a talent agency called LA Direct Models, as well as a company called The Luxury Companion, according to Bonta's office.
LAPD may no longer send armed officers to these police calls
The union representing officers of the Los Angeles Police Department has released a list of calls for service that it believes can be handled by responders who are unarmed. The Los Angeles Police Protective League released a list of 28 potential calls that could warrant an alternate response from unarmed officers or service providers, rather than the typical armed police response.
Gavin Newsom moved to close 4 California prisons. How many more can he shut?
California used to need lots and lots of prisons. Big prisons, little prisons, prisons with special cells for gang leaders and prisons for those convicted of nonviolent financial chicanery. There were so many prisoners packed into so many prisons that federal courts intervened, mandating that the state find a way to alleviate the overcrowding. At the inmate population’s peak in 2006, California incarcerated 165,000 people in state prisons.
The Orange police impounded a car after tracking a street racer all the way to L.A.
Two weeks ago, a large group of cars gathered near N. Tustin and E. Katella. Orange police officers responded to the area to ensure the safety to our community. After hearing screeching tires, an officer saw a reckless driver speeding more than 100 MPH west on Katella. The driver turned off their lights and failed to yield to the patrol officer, running a red light at Katella and Glassell.
Suit challenges Calif. law barring businesses from weighing-in on local elections
A group of California business owners, restaurateurs and developers is suing the Fair Political Practices Commission over a recently enacted state law that limits the ability of elected officials to vote on projects or permits while accepting campaign contributions. The lawsuit was filed in the Sacramento County Superior Court Wednesday morning
LBPD officers begin working mandatory overtime shifts amid staffing shortages
All sworn members of the Long Beach Police Department are being required to work mandatory overtime shifts as the department continues to navigate a staffing shortage that has existed for years. A memo from LBPD Chief Wally Hebeish to city management posted Friday said that all sworn members of the department would be required to work at least one overtime patrol shift per month.
Los Angeles City/County
LA Mayor Bass calls to root out ‘right-wing extremist’ police, signals lowering the bar for new recruits
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass called to remove "obstacles" for new police recruits and pledged to root out officers with ties to "right-wing domestic extremist organizations.” Bass is looking to remove "obstacles" for police recruits who fail to initially qualify for training as a means of further diversifying the LAPD, according to a summary of her public safety goals obtained by Fox News Digital - but police union leaders are questioning the move.
Rubio again blocks Garcetti's ambassador posting to India
Former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to be ambassador to India faces new trouble. In a statement released Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced that he would place a hold on Garcetti’s nomination, as well as six of Biden's other nominees for various posts. "One of these nominees has ignored credible sexual assault accusations in his prior office, said Rubio in a statement. “I will not turn a blind eye to these absurd nominations, which will hasten America’s decline.”
Woman sues Whittier, alleging wrongful retention of items in homicide probes
A woman is suing the city of Whittier, accusing its police department of wrongfully retaining computers and other personal property seized from her after her husband was falsely accused of the killings of two men years earlier. Victoria Adhara Wall’s Norwalk Superior Court lawsuit alleges conversion of property and seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. A representative for the city of Whittier did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Thursday.
LA County to pay $28M to settle Vanessa Bryant suit over crash photos
Vanessa Bryant and her children will receive more than $28 million to settle their outstanding claims against Los Angeles County over the graphic photographs taken and shared after the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna in 2020. The settlement includes the $15 million awarded by a jury last summer. The additional almost $14 million settles other potential additional claims Bryant and her daughters could have pursued in state court.
Eyvin Hernandez wrongfully detained in Venezuela
A University of California, Los Angeles alumnus and Los Angeles Public Defender, Eyvin Hernandez, 44, has been imprisoned by the Venezuelan government since March 31, 2022. The State Department designated Hernandez as “wrongfully detained” and the Association of Deputy District Attorneys sent a letter to President Biden on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, urging him to help secure the lawyer’s safe release.
ACLU demands changes to LA County jail conditions (Video)
The ACLU says the conditions for inmates inside one part of an LA County jail are so bad its asked a federal judge to hold the county, each member of the Board of Supervisors and the sheriff in contempt of court. Eric Leonard reports for NBC4’s I-Team on March 1, 2023.
U.S. Marshals Service suffers 'major' security breach that compromises sensitive information, senior law enforcement officials say
The U.S. Marshals Service suffered a security breach over a week ago that compromises sensitive information, multiple senior U.S. law enforcement officials said Monday. In a statement Monday, U.S. Marshals Service spokesperson Drew Wade acknowledged the breach, telling NBC News: “The affected system contains law enforcement sensitive information, including returns from legal process, administrative information, and personally identifiable information pertaining to subjects of USMS investigations, third parties, and certain USMS employees.”
Hidden, illegal casinos are booming in L.A., with organized crime reaping big profits
One thing was clear from the body lying in the Boyle Heights street: The woman was no victim of robbery. Whoever pumped four bullets behind her left ear didn’t touch the $1,000 in her purse, the bills clutched in her left hand or the diamond ring on her right index finger. Detectives eventually would learn the woman was part of an underground gambling circuit booming in Los Angeles. She had worked at an illegal casino known as a casita.
Woman charged in connection with dognapping Lady Gaga's pets sues her for $500,000 reward
A woman charged in connection with the theft of Lady Gaga’s prized French bulldogs who were dognapped at gunpoint in Hollywood has sued the musician for alleging she was denied a $500,000 “no questions asked” reward, according to a complaint filed Friday. Jennifer McBride was one of five co-defendants charged in connection with the theft of the prized French bulldogs in 2021. Lady Gaga’s dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was shot and wounded.
15 arrested across L.A. County in crackdown on fraudulent benefit cards
Local and federal authorities have arrested 15 people in Los Angeles County suspected of cloning Electronic Benefit Transfer cards and using them to drain the funds of Southern California's poorest residents, the Justice Department said Thursday. More than 300 police officers and federal agents made the arrests early Wednesday while monitoring roughly 20 ATMs across the county, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.
Crime skyrockets on LA Metro system, including a jump in drug deaths
The incidents of violent crime, illicit drug use and people dying from drug overdoses on the LA Metro transit system skyrocketed in 2022, leaving board members saying that the alarming trend should be treated as an emergency to be addressed immediately. In 2022, the most serious crimes, such as rape, aggravated assault, robbery and murder increased by 24% compared to 2021, while less serious crimes rose by 14% over the same time period, reported Gina Osborn, LA Metro safety officer, as part of an update to the Metro Board on Thursday, Feb. 23.
DA Jason Williams raps deputy Emily Maw over gun releases
Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams distanced himself from the decision of a top deputy to refuse more than a dozen gun charges on Mardi Gras, calling the attorney’s actions "improper and unrepresentative of office policy.” At least 15 men were released from jail Tuesday after Emily Maw, chief of the office’s civil rights division, refused the charges against them on the condition that they surrender their weapons.
Judge extends plan to manage flows to California delta and protect endangered fish
A judge has extended a temporary settlement of a long-running dispute over California water rights and how the Central Valley Project and State Water Project manage the Sacramento River flows. Conservationists and the state of California filed two challenges to two biological opinions issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2019 pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.
‘Cowardly scumbags:’ Volusia County sheriff condemns antisemitic messages spouted by hate groups
The Volusia County sheriff on Monday addressed recent acts of antisemitism in the county and in Central Florida at a news conference. Sheriff Mike Chitwood was joined by faith and community leaders to condemn the “despicable, cowardly and reprehensible” attacks throughout the county, including a hate group using a portable projector to display antisemitic messages on the side of the Daytona International Speedway, what is believed to be the same group displaying antisemitic signs displayed on a pedestrian overpass, people handing out antisemitic propaganda in Ormond Beach and reports of hateful speech in the city of Port Orange.
Rape kit from 1994 leads to arrest in 43-year-old killing, authorities say
A rape kit from a 1994 alleged crime led to an arrest in a 43-year-old killing in California, authorities said Wednesday. Investigators believe Harold Carpenter, 63, killed Patricia Carnahan in 1979, the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office in California said. Carpenter was identified after a rape kit from an alleged 1994 sexual assault in Spokane, Washington, was recently tested and his DNA was found to have matched evidence collected from Carnahan’s body, the district attorney's office said.
Billions of Android users warned over dangerous 'Google mistake' – you must check apps today
Mozilla Firefox has uncovered several apps on the Google Play Store that are misleading users. The popular web browser found that even top Google Play apps are misleading users by mislabeling their products. Researchers at Mozilla uncovered this by looking at the top 20 free and premium apps from the Google Play Store. Then they cross-referenced the behavior of the apps with their listed descriptions. Surprisingly, 32 out of 40 tested apps had at least some minor misconceptions.
Justices to run the numbers on consumer protection agency funding
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether it is constitutional that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau draws its funding through the Federal Reserve instead of congressional appropriations. After the Fifth Circuit ruled last year that the funding mechanism violated the appropriations clause, the government warned the justices that its intervention is needed to protect every action the CFPB has taken in the 12 years of its existence.
Chatsworth man sentenced to more than 7 years in prison for cyberstalking campaigns against victims in California and Georgia
A San Fernando Valley man was sentenced today to 85 months in federal prison for stalking two sisters in California by sending them text messages that threatened them with rape and murder and for threatening and harassing a teenage girl in Georgia. Alex Scott Roberts, 27, of Chatsworth, was sentenced by United States District Judge André Birotte Jr., who at today’s hearing called Roberts’ conduct “egregious.”
Former FBI special agent sentenced to 6 years in prison for accepting bribes paid by attorney linked to organized crime figure
A former FBI special agent was sentenced today to 72 months in federal prison for conspiring to accept at least $150,000 in cash bribes and other items of value in exchange for providing sensitive law enforcement information to a corrupt attorney with ties to Armenian organized crime. Babak Broumand, 56, of Lafayette, California, was sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner.
LA County serial rapist sentenced to 310 years in prison
A Santa Clarita man who pleaded no contest to sexually assaulting seven women was sentenced Wednesday to 310 years to life in prison by a judge who called him a “predator.” “Frankly, it’s stunning how much pain and suffering one man can inflict,” Superior Court Judge Jared Moses said after hearing statements from four victims who were attacked by Nicolas Morales. “We’re here because of the courage of the seven women.”
Articles of Interest
What we learned from the latest Fox News-Dominion case filing
Fox News was facing an existential crisis after the 2020 elections and its executives were panicking, according to new documents released in a lawsuit against the network. A new legal filing by Dominion Voting Systems in their ongoing defamation suit against Fox News on Monday paints a picture of nervous executives attempting to shore up ratings while fielding concerns about the false claims of election fraud being pushed by allies of then-President Donald Trump in the days and weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol - often on the network’s air.
Court: Objectors added little to $85M Zoom settlement, won't get attorney fees
Objectors whose efforts led to changes in an $85 million class action settlement with Zoom won't be awarded nearly $125,000 in attorneys fees. San Francisco federal magistrate judge Laurel Beeler said the adjustments to agreement, which resolved security problems as Zoom rose to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic, weren't major enough to warrant the payment of attorney fees.
Delaware can’t inherit windfall just because MoneyGram lives there
Determining the fate of hundreds of millions of dollars in a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Delaware does not have first dibs on the unclaimed property of the 1.8 million businesses registered in its corporate-friendly state. “In the context of tangible property, the escheatment rule is straightforward: The State in which the abandoned property is located has the power to take custody of it,” Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in what is the Biden appointee's first majority opinion for the court.
A man who killed 7 is suspected in his cellmate's slaying at a California prison
A California inmate serving a life sentence for the murders of seven people is suspected of killing his cellmate in a Kern County prison Friday, the state corrections department said. Juan Villanueva, 53, was found unresponsive around 8:50 a.m. in the cell he shared with Ramon Escobar at North Kern State Prison, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement.
Alaska state workers hoodwinked into believing 401K-style retirement plan was as good as a pension
From Alaska to Florida, America’s state and local governments have long been pushing their workers out of pensions into 401(k)-type retirement plans in response to looming budget deficits - misleadingly claiming the retirement benefits are comparable. Nearly two decades later, state workers have awakened to discover they were hoodwinked by their employers and retained financial advisors. Warnings that 401(k)-style plans provide significantly smaller benefits than pensions should have been heeded.
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